Youth Advisory Panel

An embedded youth voice in the Commission's work.

Youth Advisory Panel discussion during induction.

The Youth Advisory Panel is an advisory body established to embed a youth voice in the Commission’s work. The Panel supports the Commission’s vision to create Australia’s first global city region that will provide better jobs, housing, education, health and lifestyle opportunities for everyone.

A new Panel was formed in December 2022 and builds on the Greater Sydney Commission Youth Panel which was established in May 2019. The Panel is made up of 12 members, with two members representing each city in the Six Cities Region. Members are required to be aged between 18 to 30 years old upon appointment.

The purpose of the Panel is to:

  • elevate diverse perspectives and views on issues that matter to young people 
  • provide advice on Commission-led projects
  • facilitate engagement with other young people across the Six Cities Region.

Key responsibilities of Panel members include:  

  • actively participate in six formal meetings per year
  • contribute to Commission work by providing a youth lens on region-shaping policy and projects and collaborating with staff.  
  • engage with communities by maintaining connections and leading discussions with local groups and networks;
  • representing the Commission at events and forums; and working collaboratively with other Panel members.  
  • provide advice to external organisations on diverse topics and issues beyond the Commission’s remit.

In addition, Co-Chairs attend Full Commission meetings to provide an update on Panel activities and share youth perspectives on the Commission’s work. 

Meet our Panel members

Headshot of Grace Sheather.
Grace Sheather, 18 (she/her)

Central Coast City 
Central Coast / Darkinjung land

After completing high school in 2022, Grace works in retail and hospitality. Her commitment to social justice issues is reflected in her participation in community service projects and social research. 

Grace is interested in the key areas of development in her city that directly impact the education, housing and employment outcomes for local young people. Grace is looking forward to voicing the ideas and concerns of young people to help create tangible social change.

Headshot of Lucy Doran
Lucy Doran, 26 (she/her)

Central Coast City 
Central Coast / Darkinjung land

Lucy works as a Federal Electorate Officer on the Central Coast and has previous experience in employment services with a Bachelor of Arts in social and political science. Through her work, Lucy has seen firsthand the benefit of increased workforce participation on the whole community.

Lucy is a strong advocate for First Nations reconciliation and achieving equality across social, economic, health and educational outcomes by working with young people.

Headshot of Muhadissa Haidari
Muhadissa Haidari, 27 (she/her)

Central River City 
Cumberland / Dharug land

Muhadissa is a multicultural support worker at the Community Migrant Resource Centre and Sydney Local Health District. She is also a member of the Harmony Alliance and the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, and a Youth Ambassador at Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW.

Muhadissa is passionate about education, employment, accessibility and social justice. She is a strong advocate for connecting young people with decision makers so that their ideas can help drive positive change.

Headshot of Omar Bensaidi
Omar Bensaidi, 28 (he/him)

Central River City 
Parramatta / Dharug land

Born and raised in Sydney to migrant parents, Omar has a sociology background, is studying law and employed by The Salvation Army as Team Leader at the Oasis Crisis Accommodation in the inner city.

Omar is passionate about supporting and advocating for people who have experienced inequality and disadvantage, particularly young people and their untapped potential.

Headshot Joshua Karras
Joshua Karras, 29 (he/him)

Eastern Harbour City 
Bayside / Gweagal, Bidjigal and Gadigal land

Joshua is a Senior Project Manager with Bayside Council and is currently pursuing a PhD at the UNSW Faculty of Medicine. His research is focusing on improving health communication interventions on a global scale. Joshua is also a UNSW Postgraduate Representative on the University Council and an elected member of the University’s Academic Board.

Joshua’s primary focus is to drive cross-sectoral and cross-cultural partnership and collaboration to deliver real-world results, which maintain relevance on a local, state, national and international scale.

Headshot of Annelise Ryan
Annelise Ryan, 20 (she/her)

Eastern Harbour City 
City of Sydney / Gadigal land

Annelise is studying occupational therapy, with a major in disability, participation and health. 
She is passionate about representing and advocating for young people, particularly those with disability, neurodivergences, mental health challenges and chronic illness.

Headshot of Jackson Cocks
Jackson Cocks, 23 (he/him) (Co-Chair)

Illawarra-Shoalhaven City 
Wollongong / Dharawal land

Jackson is studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at the University of Wollongong, and is the Chair of the Student Advisory Council and an undergraduate member of the University Council. Jackson works at the Illawarra Legal Centre as a tenant advocate, providing advice on their rights and working on housing focused policies.

Jackson is interested in key areas such as housing, the connection between the six cities and education/training and passionate about bringing young people’s voices into policy development.

Headshot of Grace Mahon
Grace Mahon, 20 (she/her)

Illawarra-Shoalhaven City 
Wollongong / Dharawal land

Grace is an economics and business analytics student combining work and study as a management cadet at the University of Wollongong. She was the Executive Officer for the university’s Youth Climate Change Statement and is an active community volunteer.

Grace has a passion for public policy and a strong interest in sustainability, energy efficiency and biodiversity and the role young people can play in their future.

Headshot of Tara Kirby-Campbell
Tara Kirby-Campbell, 21 (she/her)

Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle City 
Raymond Terrace / Worimi Land

Tara is a young and passionate advocate for her local community. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Entertainment Business Management, a Diploma of Justice Studies and currently runs a music education business which specialises in personalised and accessible lessons for all students, including those with disabilities. She is a proud neurodivergent person and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Tara is looking forward to advocating for youth, with particular interests in accessibility, climate action, housing affordability and advocacy for women and children.

Headshot of Dylan Shoesmith
Dylan Shoesmith, 22 (he/him)

Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle City 
Lake Macquarie / Awabakal land

Dylan is studying business and commerce at the University of Newcastle and serves on the Lake Macquarie Youth Council and Youth Committee for the Hunter.

A born and raised Novocastrian, Dylan has a keen interest in urban and regional planning and is passionate about building a city that caters for the housing, employment and transport needs of young people.

Headshot of Matilda Harry
Matilda Harry, 24 (she/her) (Co-Chair)

Western Parkland City 
Hawkesbury / Dharug and Darkinjung land

Matilda is a Wiradjuri scholar, leader and advocate for equitable education, First Nations rights, women’s rights and caring for Country. She is passionate about creating positive social change through education and is contributing through her work as a keynote speaker, board member, volunteer in grass-roots community programs and her doctoral research on Indigenous youth success and mentorship at Western Sydney University.

At Western Sydney University, she has been recognised as the 2022 7 News NSW Highest Academic Achiever, a Dean’s Scholar, Citizen Scholar, Global Leader and Golden Key International Leader.

Headshot of Janice Rodrigues
Janice Rodrigues, 20 (she/her)

Western Parkland City 
Liverpool / Dharawal land

Janice is a proud Indian-Australian woman studying politics and international relations at the University of Sydney, volunteering within her local community, and working as a primary school tutor.

Janice is passionate about equity and including all voices in decision making particularly in relation to issues such as mental health, education, housing and climate change.

Panel contributions

The Panel contributes to Commission-led projects, engages with their communities and networks, and provides advice on a broad range of issues. Learn more about the role of our Panel.

Terms of Appointment (PDF, 411.53 KB)

Statement of Commitment (PDF, 399.21 KB)

Youth Advisory Panel meetings

The Panel formally attends six meetings per year. You can read more about the outcomes of each meeting below.

Meeting Four: Monday 17 July | Virtual Meeting

During the meeting, Panel members: 

  • Discussed the emerging insights from the Commission’s Youth Survey 
  • Participated in discussions about how the priorities of young people could be reflected in the Region Plan. 

In their own words: 

“I enjoyed the insights from the Greater Cities Commission Youth Survey on young people's priorities in the region and the comprehensive deep dives with the Region Plan team.” 
- Grace Mahon, Illawarra-Shoalhaven City Panel member

Meeting Three: Monday 29 May | Virtual Meeting

During the meeting, Panel members:

  • Discussed our research strategy and program and provided input into:
    • Current and proposed projects
    • How we can share our research findings with young people
    • Other research opportunities that may be of interest to young people
  • Participated in discussions with our Digital team to help inform our 2023 Digital Strategy 

In their own words: 

“I really enjoyed participating in the breakout room activity to discuss the research strategy and program. This gave everyone a chance to speak and an opportunity to share their thoughts.” 
- Lucy Doran, Central Coast City Panel member


Meeting Two: Monday 13 March | Virtual Meeting

During the meeting, Panel members:

  • learnt more about our Innovation Districts and opportunities to connect young people to the innovation ecosystem
  • discussed the findings from the ‘Our City: Youth Insights’ projects led by the Western Parkland City, Central River City and Eastern Harbour City members including what these insights might mean for the City Plans and the Commission’s other work.

In their own words:

“Western Parkland City, Central River City and Eastern Harbour City Panel members presented their ‘Our City’ project findings. Their engagement with young people highlighted insights, unique experiences and issues felt by young people across these cities. It was exciting to discuss issues facing young people and see how the Commission could consider these insights in relation to the City Plans and its other work.”
- Jackson Cocks, Illawarra-Shoalhaven City Panel member

Meeting One: Monday 30 January | Virtual Meeting

During the meeting, Panel members:

  • met the Commission’s Thematic Commissioners and new Chief Executive Officer
  • learnt about the NSW planning system and the role of the Commission
  • presented their engagement plans for their ‘Our City: Youth Insights’ project 
  • participated in discussions with Thematic Commissioners and Executive, who shared feedback to support the Panel to deliver their project.

In their own words:

“It was great to engage in direct two-way conversations with Commission representatives in relation to our insight areas.”
- Janice Rodrigues, Western Parkland City Panel Member 

Induction Day: Monday 5 December | In person, Parramatta

At the Induction Day, Panel members:  

  • learnt more about who the Commission is and what we do  
  • explored the role of the Panel as an advisory body and their responsibilities 
  • met with our Commissioners, Executive and staff 
  • worked together to identify issues that are important to young people in their city, and where young people can offer unique perspectives
  • participated in skill building exercises to help them fulfil their responsibilities as Panel members.

Six Cities Youth Network

To complement the Panel, the Commission has established the Six Cities Youth Network. Interested young people (aged 18-30 years old) are encouraged to sign up to the network to hear about opportunities to be engaged on issues relating to their city and the broader city region.

Join the network

Engaging our Panel

The Panel is consulted on an ad-hoc basis by external organisations, including other government agencies and the private sector. If your organisation would like to engage our Panel, complete the External consultation form.

Complete the form

Previous Youth Advisory Panels

View the work and achievements of previous Youth Advisory Panels members in the end of term reports and videos.

2019 – Inaugural Panel

Our Inaugural panel

May 2019 – October 2022

During their three-year term, the inaugural Panel provided a youth lens on strategic planning and policy matters, shared their lived experiences, and elevated the perspectives and aspirations of young people. Learn more about their experience and achievements below.

Experience and achievements

2019/2022 End of Term report (PDF, 10.78 MB)

Big issues for young people 

Acknowledging that young people were disproportionately affected by the impacts of COVID-19, the Panel authored a series of papers which focused on key issues impacting them. The Panel’s insights on housing and liveability, youth employment and sustainability were published in April 2021.

Insights from the panel:

Listening series

The panel also participated in a listening series which focused on the big issues insights.

Learn more

Young Changemakers Challenge

The Panel led the development of the Young Changemakers Challenge. This was designed to give young people a platform to present innovative ideas addressing issues relating to jobs, housing and liveability and environmental sustainability from a youth perspective. The competition categories were informed by the Panel’s ‘Big issues for young people’ papers.

Finalists in each category were paired with expert mentors from industry and government to help develop their ideas before pitching to a judging panel in July 2021. The judging panel included a Youth Panel representative.

Finalists included:

Housing and Liveability: Team contained

A community shipping container housing scheme providing affordable housing for low-income earners.


  • Willian Liu
  • Vishal Patel


  • Helen O’Loughlin, Director and former Social Commissioner
  • Dr Chris Martin, UNSW - Senior Research Fellow, Housing Policy and Practice


Environmental Sustainability: Aquaponics Anonymous

A small-scale satellite aquaponic farm producing organic food locally, providing food security, reducing food miles and saving water.


  • Edward Baker
  • Ben Lorschy
  • Hannah Kingsmill
  • Averlie Wang


  • Professor Veena Sahajwalla, UNSW - School of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Emma Herd, EY Oceania Partner, Climate Change and Sustainability Services and former Environment Commissioner


Employment: Youth Employment Skills (YES)

A government-subsidised training and experience program free to students.


  • Ria Patel
  • Mahi Vaghela


  • Liz Dibbs, former Western City District Commissioner
  • Steffen Faurby, former TAFE NSW – Managing Director