It’s not every day you get a personal invite to the Governor-General’s house for tea or to brush shoulders with former parliamentary ministers. However, it was all part of my experience as a Global Voices youth delegate when attending pre-departure briefings in Canberra, ahead of my OECD forum in Paris.
Global Voices works to connect young Australians to the world through diplomatic delegations and it was an honour to be chosen to represent QUT in 2016. Thus, I joined thirteen other eager delegates from across Australia (including Darwin even!) for three days of heavy discussion on international diplomacy and policy. We were elbows deep (metaphorically) in the issues facing the global community of our generation, such as the migration crisis, sustainability, terrorism and even American politics (yes, the Trump card was put down). It was an absolute pleasure to witness the emergence of our very own think tank through the collaboration of our ideas and minds.
From high-ranking bureaucrats to embassy officials, our days were filled with meetings and discussions on Australia’s position in the international policy realm. Personal highlights included meeting Matt Murray from the US Embassy, and getting his insight on Australia’s bilateral relationship with the US and what it means with the changing geopolitical climate. Also, it was an honour to discuss with David Gruen, Australian G20 Sherpa, a huge range of issues from Brexit to how Australia can better integrate refugees into its economy. Everyone we met with was such dynamic communicators and innovative thinkers that it was hard not to be taken in by their passion for diplomacy and policy.
The briefings have also laid the foundation for my trip to Paris and the OECD forum, as I got a feel for what it will be like in a practical sense. I am looking forward to being a voice amongst thousands of international diplomats, ministers and policy-workers to discuss and address the issues that challenge the current global community.
We even managed a quick trip to Parliament House, which resembled more of a ghost town with the double dissolution. While we could not see current ministers walking its corridors, we did manage to get access into some of the more restricted areas and even managed a quick peek at the ministerial gym. Not to mention, our tour guide was none other than Chris Pearce, a former Liberal member in the House of Representatives.
The one thing that has stayed strong with me as I’ve returned to Brisbane is the unique and innovative minds of the other delegates. It was an absolute honour to be amongst such remarkable young people that I honestly believe I may have been sitting next to a future prime minister or UN diplomat on the trip. Seeing first-hand such fervent conversation on crucial topics for our future is an opportunity not to be missed. It’s also something I believe we should be doing more in our everyday lives, even if a minister or diplomat isn’t sitting across from us at the table.
These issues need a voice and I thank Global Voices for the chance to use mine.