Pictured: Prince Harry at the reception for Victorian Youth Leaders at Government House.
Image taken by Penny Bradfield/Auspic/DPS
When three young YMCA leaders, Amanda Gailiss, Steph Ferguson and Olivia Beasley, were invited to participate in a reception for Victorian Youth Leaders by the Governor of Victoria, they didn’t realise they would be joined by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, until their official invitation arrived.
The reception was held to showcase innovative young Victorians from a range of organisations from across the state, and took place last Thursday 18 October 2018 at Government House in Melbourne.
"We are pleased to have had the opportunity to host Their Royal Highnesses, to show them innovative programs by young Victorians, and to introduce them to our next generation of leaders," said the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria.
Tal Karp, YMCA Australia Director, initiated the invitation to the three YMCA young leaders, and it was a great opportunity for them to spend time with one of YMCA Australia's newest Board members. Tal is passionate about ensuring young people have a voice and access to opportunities. She lives out the YMCA's mandate of "empowering young people" both professionally and personally.
Amanda Gailiss is a volunteer, current YMCA Global Change Agent and a former National CEO for the Day. She has a long history of volunteering with YMCA Victoria in youth leadership and with Youth Parliament.
"I’ve been to Government House a number of times, and this time I really enjoyed the youthful vibe – the social enterprise coffee, street bands and entertainment – it wasn’t regimented, so that was great," said Amanda.
"A highlight for me was getting to shake Prince Harry’s hand – not everyone gets that opportunity, and also spending time with Tal. She is very enthusiastic and motivated, and I felt she was interested in me and really engaged and listened to each of us.”
Olivia Beasley is a 2017 and 2018 Youth Parliamentarian and has also been announced as the 2019 Youth Governor for Youth Parliament. Olivia, together with her deaf team mates introduced Bills to ensure greater accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing people using public transport in Victoria.
Stephanie has volunteered and worked with YMCA Whittlesea since her childhood and is now an emerging and respected leader in the organisation. She currently works in Human Resources and Payroll at YMCA Whittlesea.
"It was a very worthwhile experience and a fantastic opportunity. I have never been in a room filled with so many inspiring young people who are determined to make a difference, and I’m excited to see what great things will emerge from such a passionate generation," said Steph.