Giving voice to the young

The Australian Catholics Young Voices Awards (YVA) are a positive way
of living out our mission and empowering youngsters.

 JOURNEYING WITH YOUTH 

By Laura Kings, assistant editor, Education and Youth at Australian Catholics magazine 

 One of the highlights of working at Jesuit Communications is the way our mission allows us to empower young people by giving them a voice. The youngest students we work with are those who contribute to our annual Young Voices Awards (YVAs), and this year will be no different.  

The awards are a national competition hosted by Australian Catholics magazine and aimed at students from subscribing schools across Australia. Usually upwards of 700 students enter the awards annually.  

The YVAs for 2024 were launched earlier this month. This year, we are asking entrants to respond to the theme, “Do good, be good, spread good news”. This is an opportunity for YVA entrants to highlight people and programs working to improve their communities. The YVA is divided into three sections – Junior (Years 5 and 6), Intermediate (Years 7 to 9) and Senior (Years 10 to 12). Each section has three entry categories: articles, photographs and digital (video or podcast). 

The theme is deliberately broad and always hints toward the positive, so that teachers in subscribing Catholic schools can incorporate it into their classroom planning. In the last couple of years, we have also added a video that outlines our expectations and gives tips on how to craft a winning entry, to support entrants in their quest to be recognised for their work. 

For the judges, reading and viewing the entries is an uplifting experience, as students demonstrate first-hand the excellent qualities and talents offered by young people attending Catholic schools in Australia. It can be very challenging to make decisions about the best entries, especially when the quality of entries is very high.  

The YVAs also celebrate the achievements of the successful entrants with certificates and prizes, by publishing their entries in the Spring edition of Australian Catholics magazine and with an online awards ceremony. We hope that in this way, we not only highlight the social justice concerns of young people, but also encourage them to live out Jesus’ example, communicate for good and spread good news.   

Young people are frequently subject to negative coverage in the media, too often regarded as a problem or spoken for by adults, whereas the YVA concept gives them a voice, allowing Jesuit Communications to fulfil their mission in a meaningful way.   

Australian Catholics editor Michele Frankeni says she enjoys being a judge. “We are just amazed and delighted by the passion that students bring to their entries. They are obviously very committed to social justice and fairness. It’s an old truism, but we learn as much from their entries and what they’re concerned about as perhaps we might teach them.” 

This year, entries are due by 5pm (AEST), Friday 24 May 2024. You can find out more about the awards here on the Australian Catholics website. 

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