The Ethics Centre is a not-for-profit organisation developing and delivering innovative programs, services and experiences that bring ethics to the centre of everyday life. To support the Centre’s ambition to broaden and deepen its engagement with young Australians, Third Link funding facilitated the employment of its first Youth Engagement Coordinator, Daniel Finlay.

We spoke with Daniel to learn more about The Ethics Centre, how he’s doing and what exciting plans are on the horizon.

Third Link: Daniel, you’ve been in your role with The Ethics Centre for just over a year now. What does your role entail, and how has it impacted on the Centre’s ability to engage with young people?

And what a year it’s been! So, my role is pretty broad, but essentially it covers all of the things we do that directly affect young people, with the intent that a more focused approach to youth outreach and representation will result in a better ability for us to engage young people.

That means I do anything from writing, editing or scoping articles from youth perspectives to supporting the design of various skills and education programs to developing ways that The Centre can involve more young people. Part of my role is also developing a youth strategy, which consists in aligning all our youth-related endeavours under a common purpose and ensuring they’re complementary.

Trying to reach young people is infamously difficult, but we’re already starting to see the fruits of having a role dedicated to it. I’ve been able to develop several community relationships over the past months, meet with community and youth organisation leaders to talk about how they work with and for young people, and involve myself in the content of our programs to ensure that the language and direction are representative and relatable.

Third Link: Can you call out a few highlights in the role recently? What are you particularly proud of?

I’m most proud of the two projects I’m most closely working on at the moment: our inaugural Youth Advisory Council and the Moral Courage Program.

The Youth Advisory Council is an initiative I’m heading that will see The Ethics Centre bring together a small group of 13-25-year-olds from across NSW (and potentially Australia) to be part of our decision-making and creation process for all things youth-related. I know as well as anyone that individuals can’t speak for groups, and so we decided that to properly represent and serve young people, we need to be informed and guided by a variety of young voices. We’re set to have over 50 applications, which I’m super excited about!

The Moral Courage Program is something I’ve had increasing involvement with since I joined The Ethics Centre. This program empowers teenagers with the skills they need to identify their values and how to properly live them, often involving the need to know how to reflect, analyse, empathise and support themselves and others.

Early on, I developed scripts that depict scenarios where young people face difficult internal or external decisions, grappling with their own values and others’. As part of that process, I was lucky enough to speak (and laugh) with some enthusiastic students from various Sydney high schools and incorporate their direct feedback and ideas to make sure that the examples we use in the program are as realistic and relatable as possible.

Third Link: What are some of the big plans in store for The Ethics Centre and its programs for young people over the coming year or two?

One of the larger-scale things I’d love to see us be able to do is a national youth-ethics survey. We began looking into the potential for this last year, but it turns out surveying’s an expensive business! It’s definitely something we’re interested in doing medium-long-term because there are no youth surveys that look at youth sentiment regarding ethics, and it would be immensely impactful to be able to pinpoint gaps in understanding or action.

We’re also planning some youth-focused events to complement our current suite. Last year, I was involved with the creation of a highly successful session at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, where a group of UNSW students presented their dangerous ideas to festival-goers. With the future involvement of the Youth Advisory Council, this is only going to get bigger and better!

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