Leading the way

PSA conference for young members

youthThere’s been lots of media interest in the Y Generation and, as is often the case with generalisations, it seems like many of the more negative articles have got it wrong.

Perhaps some of the grouchy and jaded people who have written the articles should have been at the PSA Youth Conference at the end of last year and witnessed all the energy, commitment, and generosity shown over the course of the two-day event.

The conference was held on 28 and 29 November 2012 in Wellington and attended by nearly 50 young PSA members. Conference organiser Susannah Bailey says the conference’s emphasis was on youth participation and engagement in the union, and campaigning and advocating for social change.

As one of the conference participants noted at the end of the conference, they gained a “better understanding of social change and how to influence change by affirming people’s strengths”.

Over the course of the conference, attendees heard from several speakers who provided a blueprint for how young PSA members can take action. They included the PSA’s Kirsten Windelov on influencing public policy, Nikki Harré from the University of Auckland on the psychology of inspiring action, and the PSA’s Matthew O’Driscoll on the power of social media.

The idea of taking action was seized upon by conference participants, with one of the outcomes being the establishment of regional network committees.



“I was blown away by the huge talent in the room. It was exciting to see participants offer to organise events and provide support to others in areas like career development,” says Susannah.

“In certain work environments it can be very hard for young people to feel that they have a say or that their input counts. The conference served as a way to affirm how important young people are in the workplace and also give them the tools to ensure their voice is heard.”

The PSA is working to increase youth participation and leadership within the organisation, and looking at changing the way we do things to ensure the union movement is relevant to youth. In March, young PSA members from around the country attended leadership training days.

Susannah says a number of other unions in New Zealand and abroad are looking to us to see how we reach out to young members.

As Susannah says, “It sounds a bit cliché to say ‘these are the leaders of tomorrow’, but that’s absolutely the case. In fact, many of our young PSA members are already in leadership roles. The conferences and other events provide young members with an opportunity to help shape the PSA of today and tomorrow."


This article is from the March 2013 issue of the PSA Journal. You can read back issues of the Journal by clicking here.