North Avoca teen chosen for Youth Advisory Council

Kale Puata

Kale Puata of North Avoca is one of 12 impressive and inspiring young people from across the state to be appointed to the 2022-23 Youth Advisory Council, which will provide advice to NSW Government during its one-year term.

Kale, 16, attends St Edward’s College at East Gosford and already has an impressive record of community service through his involvement with Surf Life Saving and the Australian Air Force Cadets.

He decided to apply for the Advisory Council through a desire to make a valuable contribution to society.

“It was quite a long selection process,” he said.

“First we had to complete an online application process with around 500 people from NSW applying.

“Several online sessions, where a number of questions were asked, cut that number down to 30 and a face-to-face meeting at the State Library decided the final 12.

“I really want to be an advocate for young people with the State Government, using the leadership skills I already have and applying them first-hand.”

During his 10-year involvement with Surf Life Saving, he has been named both NSW and Central Coast Junior Life Saver of the Year

He has served as Junior Club Captain for the North Avoca Surf Club and is part of the Surf Life Saving Central Coast Youth Program.

“I’ve been involved with Surf Life Saving since I was really small, starting out in the Under 6s in Sydney and then joining the Under 7s when we moved to North Avoca,” he said.

Kale also participates in Australian Air Force Cadets and was recently promoted to Corporal where he is responsible for the well-being of young cadets.

“Dad used to be in the Cadets and when I was young he encouraged me to give it a try,” Kale said.

“It has given me a lot of leadership opportunities and I particularly enjoy being responsible for the wellbeing younger cadets.”

Kale is also active in other community initiatives both locally and further afield; he volunteered at Quirindi at the height of the NSW drought.

During his time on the Council he would like to see a focus on the provision of more mental health services for youth and measures to encourage more youth into volunteering roles.

“There are a lot of issues surrounding mental health, with physical and social issues tied in,” he said.

“COVID isolation has brought this into more focus.

“Now more than ever there is a need to strengthen community connections.”

“We need to implement the right supports and policy settings to help avoid long term impacts of the pandemic on young people.

“Improving participation in volunteer organisations helps strengthen connection to the community.”

Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services, Natasha Maclaren-Jones, said by actively listening and responding to young people, the Government can unsure it creates policies and services that truly reflect their needs.

“I congratulate the 12 members of the Council on their appointments and I look forward to working closely with them to ensure the NSW Government is best supporting our children and young people to achieve the best start in life,” she said.

“Being part of the NSW Youth Advisory Council gives young advocates an opportunity to effect real change.”

Throughout the one-year term, the Youth Advisory Council will be supported in its work by the Advocate for Children and Young People, Zoë Robinson.

“The NSW Youth Advisory Council is one of the most valuable ways that NSW Government engages with and creates space for young people to be involved in solutions that will deliver real outcomes for all young people in NSW,” Robinson said.

“By listening and acting on what we are hearing from young people, we create a better NSW for all of us.”

Terry Collins