Want to be part of the Cairns Youth Council?

1. Nominating for Youth Council

Open week commencing 31 July 2023

If you’re aged 13-17 and live in the Cairns Regional Council region, nominate yourself to run for the Youth Council! Nominations open week commencing 31 July 2023, and close 8 September.

2. Campaigning for election

September – Late October

Candidates will campaign from early September until the election in late October, with access to free media training, campaigning workshops, marketing tutorials and more. Candidates will each get 10 free campaign t-shirts and $100 for campaign materials. A Meet the Candidate community forum will give candidates the chance to hear from and speak with constituents. 

3. Election Week

Late october

The Youth Council election is happening in late October. Ballot boxes will be set up in high schools and community spaces across the Cairns region.
Young people aged 11-17 are eligible to vote. 

4. Term in Office

The Youth Council will serve an 18 month term in office from February 2024 to July 2025. During this time they will deliver projects, campaigns and events based on a priority agenda developed together early in their term.



Frequently asked questions

What are the key dates?


  • 31 July 2023: Youth Council nominations open
  • Online drop in information sessions
  • Sunday 3 September 5pm: Youth Council nominations close
  • Week commencing 11 September 2023: Final list of candidates confirmed


  • 18 September 2023: Campaign period begins
    • Tuesday 26 September, 4pm – 5:30pm: Workshop 1 Messaging and Strategy (online)
    • Wednesday 27 September, time TBD: Workshop 2 (in person – Manunda Library)
    • Tuesday 3 October, 4pm – 5:30pm: Workshop 3 Being an elected representative and wellbeing (online)
    • Thursday 5 October: Optional drop-in for campaign support 
  • Monday 9 October 5:30pm – 7:30pm : Meet the Candidates Forum
  • Late October 2023: Cairns Youth Council Elections
  • Late October 2023: Announcement of election results


  • Saturday 2 December 2023: Youth Council induction part 1
  • Saturday 3 February 2024: Youth Council induction part 2

Term in Office

February 2024 – July 2025: Youth Council Term in Office

Youth Council meetings will be held once a fortnight, alternating between in-person at a central venue or online

What suburbs and towns are in the Cairns Regional Council area?

Check out a list of suburbs and a map of the council area here.

How can I get involved?

Nominations for the Cairns Regional Council are open to young people aged between 13 and 17 years of age (at the time of application) living in the Cairns Regional Council area.

We encourage young people with a diversity of lived experience of life in Cairns to nominate, including First Nations people, LGBTQIA+ people, disabled people / people with disability, women and non-binary people, low-income communities, people from diverse cultural backgrounds and people of colour.

You do not need to be an Australian citizen to nominate yourself.

Why can’t over 18s run for Youth Council?

Australian citizens aged 18 and over are eligible to vote in local, state and federal elections, and can nominate themselves to run for election to represent their constituents at all levels (and we encourage you to consider it!)

If you’re over 18 and want to be involved in the Young Mayors program in other ways, get in touch!

We have paid opportunities available for young people to deliver presentations at schools, support other young people to nominate themselves, help coordinate Election Week, set up and manage voting centers, and count votes.

What type of projects and campaigns will the Cairns Youth Council run?

The Youth Council will decide their priorities based on issues identified by young people in Cairns.

The projects run by youth councils and forums around the world have covered a range of issues, including: 

  • Campaigns for mental health, LGBTIQ+ equality, poverty reduction, sustainability, safety and tourism
  • Youth homelessness support projects
  • Lowering the age of travel concessions
  • New inclusive council programs for young people with disabilities
  • Forums that bring young people together with local, state, and federal decision makers
  • New sports competitions, music programs, and art exhibitions

During the Term in Office, the Youth Council will regularly consult with their constituents to make sure their work is meeting the needs of young people in the community. Consultation will happen in different ways, including a Community Forum during their Term in Office.

How many spots are there on the Youth Council?

There will be 12 spots available on the Youth Council, split into regions.

How often and where will the Youth Council meet, and what’s the time commitment?

The Youth Council will meet once a fortnight, alternating between in-person meetings at a central location, and online via zoom. Meetings will be 1.5 to 2 hours on a weekday after school (day of the week to be confirmed).

If any Youth Council members can’t attend meetings because of transport, we’ll find a way to help – just let us know when you complete your nomination form.

As well as fortnightly meetings, the Youth Council may have the chance to go to Cairns Regional Council meetings and other events, which will be decided as the Term in Office rolls out. They will also be encouraged to attend events in the community.

Will Youth Council members be paid?

Youth Council members will be paid a quarterly stipend of $250 ($1500 across the Term in Office) to recognise that costs might come up as a part of being involved (eg. transport).

Food will be provided for meetings with all dietary requirements catered to.

Does the Youth Council work with the Cairns Regional Councillors and Mayor?

The Youth Council will have opportunities to meet with and provide recommendations to Cairns Regional Council Councillors and the Mayor throughout their Term in Office.

What support will young people get?

Young people running for election will have access to workshops and mentoring to support their campaigns by Australia’s leading campaigners and civic leaders.

Candidates will also be given $100 to spend on campaign marketing materials and 10 t-shirts to design for their campaigns. To keep it equitable, candidates are not permitted to spend any other money or get in-kind support to advertise in their campaigns.

Once elected, the Youth Council will do a thorough induction, have access to a constantly updated resource library, and will be supported by a staff member based in the Council area.

Youth Council members will be paid a quarterly stipend of $250 ($1500 across the Term in Office) to recognise that costs might come up as a part of being involved (eg. transport).

Does it cost anything to be involved?

The program is completely free to participate in.

How will the campaign process be managed to ensure it is respectful and equitable?

We are committed to this program being a safe, accessible opportunity for all young people.

All candidates will be asked to read and sign a Code of Conduct when they nominate themselves to run for the Youth Council.

Candidates will be given campaign support by FYA, and will not be allowed to use any personal funds or seek donations (cash or in-kind) for their campaigns. We want to make sure all young people, regardless of privilege, are on an equal playing field.

Can candidates use social media to promote campaigns?

Social media can be used for campaigns as freely available tools for promotion. Candidates can not run cash advertising on social media platforms.

The Candidate Code of Conduct and Rules for Engagement outline expectations including respectful interactions and reporting of inappropriate or harmful commentary.

A comprehensive set of child safeguarding policies underpin all of FYA’s work, and both FYA and Cairns Regional Council Policies inform and underpin the program delivery. Young people’s wellbeing is central to the design of the program.

Where and when will the election happen?

The election will be held over one week in late October 2023. Across the week, ballot boxes will be set up in high schools across the Cairns region.

As well as schools, we’re interested in setting up ballot boxes in community spaces where young people visit, so that all young people aged 11-17 have the opportunity to vote; not just those who go to school. If you want to suggest a space, please get in touch.

How does voting work?

Voting will be optional preferential. This mirrors State and Federal Election systems aims to provide a comprehensive voting experience to young voters.

Candidates will be split into regions to make sure the Youth Council is representative of all parts of the region. Young people aged 11-17 (inclusive) will be eligible to vote in the region they live in or where they spend the most time (such as school) for the candidates running for election in that region.

I won’t be at school during Election Week. How can I vote?

If you want your vote to count but your school isn’t participating in the program, you don’t go to school or you won’t be at school on the day the ballot boxes are there, please get in touch and we’ll arrange a voting alternative.

Is the Young Mayors program a school activity?

No. Elections will be run at schools, but the Young Mayors program is not part of the curriculum.

The Youth Council runs outside of school time, but it’s best to let your school know you’ll be getting involved either as a candidate, or as an elected Youth Council member. A letter to your school can be provided on request.

On occasion, Youth Council members may have the chance to get involved in activities that run during school hours, with advanced notice.

What safeguarding is in place for young people in the program?

The Young Mayors program works with young people aged 13 to 17 years. We recognise this program puts young people in the public spotlight, and this can create vulnerabilities.

Wellbeing measures are central to how we approach all activities, informed by co-design process undertaken with each local government area.

Risk management planning includes, but is not limited to specific actions and support available to keep young people safe, processes to report harm, and clarity on expectations young people can have of each other, partners involved and the general public.

FYA and our partners are required to have Working With Childrens’ Checks and adhere to a comprehensive set of safeguarding policies and legislative requirements.Both FYA Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and Cairns Regional Council Policies inform and underpin the program delivery.

What inclusion and accessibility support is available?

We are working hard to make every part of the program as accessible to as many people as possible. This includes using wheelchair accessible venues, having the option to provide Auslan Interpreters for events, providing single and gender neutral bathrooms, creating social scripts and maintaining COVID safety. 

We are committed to supporting all access requirements and welcome suggestions for any access needs not covered here. Please email Tahlia Azaria (she/her) at tahlia.azaria@fya.org.au or call FYA on (03) 7046 3837 to book a time to chat.

Got more questions?

During the nominations period, we’ll be coming to participating schools and community groups to tell you more about the Young Mayors program and how you can get involved.

In the meantime, if you have a question that hasn’t been answered here, get in touch here or at youngmayors@fya.org.au.