Ben Johns in front of Parliament House, Canberra.

Ben Johns has been with the Youth Council as a foundational member since its formation in 2021. Ben is moving into a new role as an Honorary Advisor to the Youth Council.

We recently celebrated Ben’s time with the Youth Council. From the start, Ben has been an ideas’ man, conscientious and dedicated to giving his best. As a Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator, Ben was extremely successful in putting the Youth Council on the map through his idea of connecting with youth through a video when we did the Illawarra Youth Survey during the pandemic in 2020. Ben’s work on the Youth Survey Report showed great team work and a keenness to communicate the results in the best way possible.

Ben has kindly provided his reflection on his time with the Council. We wish Ben well and know that he will be invaluable as we move forward engaging him in an advisor capacity. Thankyou Ben Johns!

Dear Reader,

I offer you my reflection of my time with the Illawarra Centre for Enablement’s Youth Council:
I have worked closely with Diann in the past while doing little events with the Illawarra Centre for
Enablement, but when I was invited to join the Council by Diann in August in 2021, I joined because I like
the idea – to help grow our leadership skills as Diann saw us (and still does see us) being the leaders of
tomorrow and helping our community out as well.
The first couple of meetings were to meet each other and come up with a topic to speak about and to see
how we can assist youth in the Illawarra. Diann gave us a few ideas, the main one being about climate
change. We all thought and agreed that climate change would be an ongoing thing and we needed to do
something about, but felt at that point in time in August 2021, the main problem was Covid-19, and as we
felt like that our local Council, state or federal governments weren’t doing a thing to assist youth, we
decided this was going to be our project. Working out what we were going to do and how took a little
while. We then wrote up a survey and finalised it working with Diann and it took off with more than 100
youth responding and from their responses to our survey, we wrote up a 58-page report and invited local
MPs to endorse it.
While being with the Youth Council, I learnt a lot of leadership qualities. I learnt to be more trustworthy
of myself. I grew a lot of new friendships with the other Council members and had a lot of opportunities
as well. The main two opportunities were taking up being the Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator of
the Council, which helped me grow to learn how to get other parties involved and how to get our
survey/report out as well. The second opportunity was an offer to join the NSW Youth Taskforce which I
knocked back due to other commitments but do want to personally congratulate Ben Healey on joining it.
But to top it all off, as a team we got awarded an award for Outstanding Citizen of the Year. This was
community recognition for what we had achieved being in the youth Council and for our survey and the
survey report.
My personal reflection as to what I got out, and will still use after leaving the Youth Council:
This one is hard to write as I got so much from it. Within myself I felt like I have grown to be a better
person and to trust myself a lot more. As I suffer from a verbal disability (which is called verbal dyspraxia)
I find it hard to speak to different people and I’m very thankful that other Council members appreciated
my working in my time. All the skills that I have learnt from youth Council and the leadership program, I
have taken onboard in my role as a production supervisor at The Flagstaff Group Fine Food division.
It is sad that I’m leaving due to commitments in my life, but I do want to say thanks to the following
foundation Council members: Alvin, Amar, Ben, Tristan and Ishan. Thanks for making it a great experience
and a huge thank you to Diann for being there to support me, coach me and for just everything. Good
luck to the newest members, Cellina and Julia, I hope you both get the most out of it.
While I’m leaving the Council I will still be there for each member of the Council if they need help or just
need someone to chat to and will be a life-member of the Illawarra Centre for Enablement.
“Today I close the door to the current chapter and open the door to the new chapter.”

Yours truly
Benjamin Johns
Youth Council member/Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator.