2020 Student Volunteer of the Year (Undergraduate)
Yasmin Poole developed a strong sense of justice at a young age. After growing up in a low income family in country Victoria, she was instilled with the desire to stand up for the disadvantaged and create a fairer Australia.
She began her volunteering journey at 17 years old working with several youth-led NGOs. Today she is a prominent advocate for youth issues.
"A big part of why I do what I do has to do with growing up in a low-income background," said Yasmin. "My mum sold food at the Hawker Market in Singapore when she was young and my dad experienced homelessness during his teenage years, yet eventually their daughter got to go to university.
"While growing up, I would see others get amazing opportunities or be able to volunteer when I was working. That created a sense of hopelessness then, but when I graduated, I wanted to turn that hopelessness into a feeling of agency."
Yasmin has built a strong platform as a youth advocate - as Chair of the Victorian Government's Youth Congress in 2018, she advised on youth policy and represented 1.2 million young people. She was also the Australian Youth Representative to APEC 2018 in Papua New Guinea.
More recently, she was recognised as the youngest winner in the 2019 Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence. She is the youngest ever person to be named as one of the Top 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian Australians.
"I remember on a school tour to Parliament when I was 12 years old and I stepped into the House of Representatives, I felt 'this is where things can be changed'. And I channelled that feeling into making sure that young people, including those from similar backgrounds to mine, and people who can slip through the cracks, can feel that their voice matters and to call for them to have a seat at the table."
Yasmin emphasises on the power of self-belief in making a positive impact on the world around us.
"I think one of the biggest things that holds people of all ages back is this sense of doubt that maybe they cannot do it, but believing that you can make an impact is absolutely important."
She says youth are the true leaders and change agents of the world.
"People often say young people are the leaders of the future, but I would say we are the leaders today. It is important that we understand our own experiences, our vulnerabilities, our hardships, and share those perspectives. Because if we want to make a better world, that really does involve young people."