ARARAT - Year 12 Marian College student Sam McColl is one of just 19 people from across the state chosen to take the views of young Victorians on issues that matter to them to the State Government.
Sam has been selected as a member of the Victorian Coalition Government's Youth Advisory Committee - Involve.
He said after an induction and initial meeting it was full steam ahead for the group with the focus on the first topic: 'Young people and the law'.
"In that we will be looking at how young people interact with authorities including police and the ways of improving that to ensure they are working together," he said.
Sam who along with this new role is busy completing year 12 is also a CFA volunteer with the Ararat Fire Brigade.
He said there seems to be a disconnect between young people in society and law makers and enforcers.
"I'm not sure whether it is because people don't care or just don't have enough to do but we need to get more people involved and interested in community volunteering," he said.
"I think a lot of our councils' view is that young people don't have the experience so therefore they don't think we are worth it, but we are and we can make a difference."
Other subject areas that will be analysed over the course of the program include public transport, youth participation in council decision making and employment.
"It is important people know we are not just representing young people who go to school, it is those that are homeless or in the workforce as well," Sam said.
He said he continues to be passionate about a policy area that was one of the main focuses for last year's group.
"I think the access to mental health for people in rural areas in particular needs looking at," he said.
"People still have to travel as far away as Ballarat for headspace facilities and before that it was all the way to Melbourne.
"I also think there needs to be more discussions about depression and mental illness in schools so people know what it is about."
Sam said having to report to the Minister for Youth Affairs Ryan Smith was made easier by the fact the minister himself is one of the youngest cabinet ministers in the state government.
"He is a great guy that is good to work with. He genuinely wants to have the committee behind him and work with them at every stage," he said.
Mr Smith said the members provide a direct conduit between young people and the government, helping shape a range of youth policies and raising issues of concern to young people.
"This is a great opportunity for young people to influence government decision making by providing advice and feedback on issues that directly affect them," Mr Smith said.
"The Involve members will be the voice of young people and enable me, as Youth Affairs Minister, and the Coalition Government to have greater insight into their concerns and how they can be best addressed."
The Involve Committee comprises eight young people aged 12 to 17 and eight people aged 18 to 25, as well as three representatives from the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, the Centre for Multicultural Youth and the Koorie Youth Council.
Sam said he nominated for the youth advisory committee out of interest, not as a career path and that next year he plans to study a double degree of Nursing/Paramedicine at Australian Catholic University in Ballarat.