One thousand conversations create momentum for change

Published: 03 Apr 2023

Uniting the voices of 1000 young people is no easy task, but that’s exactly what a key group of local youth sector stakeholders have done.

Over the last few years, this stakeholder group set out to have conversations with 1000 youth, aged 10 to 21, to find out how they feel about living in our region and what they would like to see change.

Mayor Greg Williamson – who was at Teen Shed Mackay today (Monday, April 3) to launch the product of those conversations, the YOL1000 report (Youth Out Loud) – congratulated the project team on engaging with so many of our region’s young people.

“This tremendous report is the result of one of the most extensive, targeted engagement projects ever undertaken locally,” Mayor Williamson said.

“It outlines the key things that we heard from young people and the key trends that have emerged from those conversations,” he said.

“Young people clearly told us that they value our beautiful natural environment and places and spaces, however, they also highlighted a few key things they feel are missing.

“Something they wanted more of was access to safe spaces to gather, outside the school and home environment, and entertainment options that are specifically for young people.

“When you break down the figures, 350 of the young people surveyed wanted more entertainment options and 271 wanted more safe spaces outside of home and school or work.”

Manager of Community Development at MADEC and YOL1000 member Karen Bonham acknowledged the work of all the stakeholders involved in the project and said the report would spur some exciting initiatives in the youth community.

“What we also hope is that other organisations, services and businesses around the region will read the report and engage with YOL to support current and future initiatives in response to what we have heard from young people,” Ms Bonham said.

“This initiative is already encouraging local youth service providers and government to seek targeted solutions for young people,” she said.

“It’s really exciting to see so much momentum in the youth space and so much appetite across all the stakeholder organisations to implement new initiatives targeting the needs of young people.”

Mayor Williamson said some of those initiatives had already kicked off and were being embraced by young people.

“Where we are today, Teen Shed, is a tremendous initiative that gives young people a safe space to socialise, grow as individuals and be heard,” he said.

“There have also been some really exciting workshops lately – Firecracker, where youth can learn to run their own entertainment events, and Louder, a youth forum theatre project.

“Council is also really excited to see the Young Mayors project kick off over the next few months.

“This will be Mackay’s first democratically elected youth council and will not only provide amazing personal development opportunities for emerging leaders but also an ongoing voice for young people with real power to lobby local government.

“All in all, this YOL1000 initiative and report is a huge step forward and we are excited to see more ongoing collaboration with young people that will drive real change for youth in our region.”

The YOL1000 report is available online at:

Five other key findings from the YOL1000 report

  1. Consistently, young people felt Mackay was a good, safe place to live and most of them appreciated our beautiful environment.
  2. Most young people felt supported by their families and community.
  3. 107 young people wanted better access to public transport.
  4. 180 young people indicated that they had concerns about their safety in public spaces.
  5. 140 young people were concerned about drug and alcohol use in the community.

About YOL1000

Youth Out Loud 1000 (YOL1000) is a collaborative partnership realised by Mackay Regional Council and Greater Whitsunday Communities. Key partners include the Department of the Premier and Cabinet; Queensland Government Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy; Queensland Government Department of Education; Queensland Government Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, and MADEC Ltd.