Youth Participation in the Global Anti-Poverty Movement
As the community of young Australian volunteers expands exponentially, Australians are developing a bad habit of underestimating millennial philanthropy.
If you follow any Australian news media outlets, you’ll know that millennials are lazy, self-entitled, avocado-obsessed and too sensitive to play golf. Most of these accusations are attributed to a fraught relationship with technology - supposedly, we’ve developed an addiction to the internet that’s corrupting our ability to connect with one other. However, through this digital transformation, we have established a culture of radical interconnectedness, providing charity organisations with hundreds of new channels through which they can engage an enthusiastic network of potential volunteers. It’s the responsibility of the charity sector to use this youth-led framework to its advantage.
The rise of the young volunteer is unsurprising. Young people are especially vulnerable to inequality, and the challenges we face are structurally under-acknowledged in politics. Despite making up a quarter of the global population, we’re underrepresented in parliament, and epidemically uncertain about how our democracy works.
We’re routinely excluded from formal political institutions and their to age-based systems of power. Global issues that directly concern the emerging generation - such as climate change - aren’t prioritised in adult-centric political conversations. For this reason, young Australians are disengaging from the conventional political apparatus and taking it upon themselves to combat inequality.
This generation is distinguishing itself through determination, collaboration, and creative uses of technology. Unfettered by the ideological and institutional constraints that characterised our parents’ generation of activists, we’re employing creative solutions to challenge the crises they’ve left for us.
As a group that has ‘grown up online’, we’re able to navigate the ethical contours of our digital landscape in ways our parents and grandparents might never have thought possible. We’ve adopted social media as a framework for an international, intergenerational, and interlinguistic anti-poverty movement. We’re using it to subvert the youth-exclusive paradigm of contemporary politics, and developing our own political spaces. We know that working together is the first step to ending poverty.
In the global anti-poverty movement, the unique passions and talents of young people are invaluable. To campaign for social change in the contemporary political climate, it isn’t enough to give young people a fundraising task. An effective campaign recognises young people as active participants in their political movements: it has to empower young people to bring about social change for themselves.
It Takes Two channeled the community-building potential of the digisphere and celebrated its golf-scorning denizens. We reconfigured the conventional fundraising paradigm: instead of asking a small group of individuals to donate anything they could afford, we reached out to a broader community of young people, anticipating their capacity and readiness to extend the campaign through their networks.
This innovative style of campaigning enhances the financial, geographical, and ideological accessibility of the anti-poverty movement for young people. We transformed young Australians into agents of change, empowering them to advocate for a more just world and youth participation in decision-making.
In this generation, small change really can make a big difference.