In an era of rapid change and evolving challenges, it is imperative for governments, councils, and industry organizations to actively incorporate the voices of youth in visioning and decision-making processes for the future. As inheritors of the societal structure and environment being shaped today, young individuals offer a unique perspective rooted in the realities and aspirations of the coming generations. Including youth voices ensures not only a diversity of thought but also fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility among them. This collaborative approach ensures that policies and strategies are not just reflective of the present, but are also adaptive and responsive to the future needs and ambitions of a dynamically evolving population.
The College is so proud of the participation of our students in a recent Sunshine Coast Youth Forum and Sunshine Coast Infrastructure Summit. These notable events focused on the critical themes of economic growth and infrastructure development, and they provided our students with an exceptional opportunity to engage with industry professionals and community leaders.
On 19th April 2023, Glasshouse Christian College served as the host for the Sunshine Coast Youth Forum. Students from across the region engaged in discussions and activities aimed at envisioning the future of the Sunshine Coast, in the context of the 2032 Olympics and an infrastructure plan for 2050. The event featured a mix of interactive sessions, breakout discussions, and global examples of transformative infrastructure projects. The event was facilitated by PSA Infrastructure consultants Terri Rossitto and Kirstin Houston, and students had the opportunity to hear from Mayor Mark Jamieson as well as Sunshine Coast Regional Council CEO, Emma Thompson. GCC students Arno Mens, Emily Hall, Lize Kasselman, Charlie Bidgood and Sebastian Catton all did a fantastic job in sharing their ideas and visions for the future of the Sunshine Coast.
In the weeks following the Youth Forum, two of our students, Arno Mens and Emily Hall, were selected based on their standout contributions to represent the collective voice of youth at the Sunshine Coast Infrastructure Summit on June 2nd, 2023.
The Infrastructure Summit, held at the Innovation Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, brought together experts and stakeholders from around the region. The day’s agenda included:
- Welcome remarks by Sandy Zubrinich of the Sunshine Coast Business Council.
- A keynote address by Mayor Mark Jamieson titled “Shaping our Future.”
- State and Federal representatives sharing insights on getting the State ready for 2032 and beyond.
- A presentation by Jerry Dobrovolny from Metro Vancouver on infrastructure delivery and the value of holding an Olympics with regard to legacy infrastructure.
- Industry roundtable feedback session led by Terry Rossitto of PSA Infrastructure.
- A panel discussion titled “The future Sunshine Coast – a youth perspective,” where Arno and Emily shared the stage with CEO Emma Thomas of the Sunshine Coast Council.
- A planning session focusing on the Sunshine Coast’s infrastructure needs, led by Kate Meyrick of Urbis.
- Closing remarks by Louise Van Ristell from the Infrastructure Association of Queensland.
During the panel discussion, Arno and Emily eloquently shared their visions for the Sunshine Coast in 2050, with emphasis on the infrastructure projects they believe should be prioritized. They spoke passionately about creating a vibrant, sustainable, and infrastructure-rich community while preserving the unique characteristics that make the Sunshine Coast an amazing place to live, work and play. Arno and Emily both highlighted the importance of persevering the natural landscapes and spaces as well as connectedness between people from a social and community perspective.
On behalf of Glasshouse Christian College, we would like to extend our congratulations to Arno Mens, Emily Hall, and all the youth participants from GCC and beyond. Their commitment and insightful contributions have not only been a source of pride for our college but also an inspiration to the broader community. As we reflect on these events, it is evident that nurturing the development and engagement of young leaders is essential, as they will be at the forefront of shaping the future of the Sunshine Coast. We are in very good hands with the likes of Arno and Emily leading the way over the next few decades!!!
Rob Steffler, Dean of Studies