We’re living in an era of unprecedented change. Technological advancements are changing the way we work, connect with each other and organise ourselves. Many of our community structures, those traditionally responsible for influencing community based values, are struggling to transition to new societal norms, and are therefore at risk of becoming less relevant, and in some cases, obsolete. Automation is forcing us to think differently about the nature of work, presenting not just challenges in terms of economic transition, but also broader questions as to how we ensure, as we redefine the traditional concept of work, that people have the opportunity to find that sense of pride and self-worth that comes from meaningful employment. As we grapple with these increasingly prevalent challenges, we feel the associated effects, including increasing social dysfunction, family breakdowns and a disconnection from community life.

With these new and complex societal challenges front of mind, and as communities around the world (including our own) seek to respond to these challenges, one of the greatest future proofing investments we can make today is in ensuring our next generation of citizens believe in their capacity to drive change.

This notion, that instead of being victims of a system that need fixing, our young people can instead believe themselves to be able contributors in making our communities stronger for all, is fundamental. If we can empower our young people, not just our prefects and sports captains, but those from all walks of life, with the belief that they can make a meaningful contribution, that their skills and abilities, in short, their superpowers, are valuable in the pursuit of positive change, our community benefits not only from the direct contribution being made, but by a reconnection to citizenship and a rebuilding of self pride and determination.

I know this to be true because I see it happening already, every day. I get asked frequently by concerned members of the community what we’re going to do about ‘the young people of today’, and yet at the same time, I meet and hear from countless trailblazing young people who are making a lasting difference to our community, simply because they believe they can. It’s not what we’re going to do about our young people that should be the question, but how’re we’re going to help our young people believe in themselves and their own ability to make a difference.

By: Mayor Rhys Williams