The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) has launched a new program, Young Social Pioneers, to promote youth-led social innovation across the country. The program honored its first 14 young social entrepreneurs and their projects at an awards ceremony held in Melbourne. Based on the International Youth Foundation’s (IYF) YouthActionNet® initiative, the FYA program supports and celebrates the role of young people in creating positive change in their communities.  

The Young Social Pioneers will benefit from professional mentoring, training, networking opportunities, skill building, and recognition for their work throughout the year-long program. Such activities are designed to strengthen the capacity of these youth leaders to address such vital issues as refugee settlements, climate change, and challenges facing Indigenous peoples.  

Launched by IYF in 2001, YouthActionNet seeks to develop a new generation of socially-conscious global citizens who create positive change in their communities, their countries, and the world. To date, 160 YouthActionNet global fellows from 55 countries have benefited from the program’s training and advocacy opportunities. Over the past three years, local versions of the prpgram have also been created in Brazil, Haiti, Israel, Mexico, Jordan, and Spain.    

“Young Social Pioneers is about empowering socially-conscious young people who create positive change in their communities to become successful leaders,” says Adam Smith, CEO of FYA. “The program offers them ideas, resources, and connections that will make their great work have even more impact and sustainability.”  

Among the first class of Young Social Pioneers are:

  • Catherine Sweeney, founder of Jungle City Massive, a dance initiative for culturally diverse young people in the Western suburbs of Melbourne.
  • Darren Lomman, who established the Dreamfit Foundation to help people with disabilities fulfill their dreams and raise disability awareness.
  • Larissa Brown, 2008 Australian Young Environmentalist of the Year and founder of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership.
  • Lucinda Hartley is the founder of the Design Leadership Project (DLP), a training and capacity building program that mobilizes students and young professionals of the built environment.
  • Mark Robertson, whose One Vision Productions educates youth in marginalized communities through arts-based, multi-literacy programs.

To learn more about the Young Social Pioneers program, please visit: www.fya.org.au