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APEC 2015 ‘Voices of the Future’ Representatives announced

November 2, 2015

Miguel Vera-Cruz,  Ben Galea, Madelin Strupitis-Haddrick, Sophie Walters and Ruth Parsons are off to represent Australian youth at the APEC 2015 Voices of the Future Forum in Manila  - November 12-19. Find out more about our youth representatives including what they hope to achieve at the Forum.

Miguel Vera-Cruz photoMiguel Vera-Cruz

Miguel is in his 6th year of a Bachelor of International Studies (International Business) and a Bachelor of Laws. He recently represented Australia in the Asia-Europe Foundation’s (ASEF) Students Forum in Hangzhou. He has visited 13 countries to date and won the Hong Kong Government Scholarship to write blog posts on Hong Kong twice weekly during his exchange. His interests also span to sporting, as he has taught baseball skills to students at 6 primary schools in Southern Sydney as part of the NSW Government Active After-School Communities (AASC) Program. One of his most notable achievements is his role as Student Caller for the UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship Appeal Feb-Jul 2012 in which he helped raise $500,000 for Scholarship funds for university students from disadvantaged backgrounds. He hopes to take this knowledge and dense experience into the APEC summit.

“The Voices of the Future program brings together young people with potential for leadership and making a difference in society, and exposes them to the real-life deal-making process of world leaders, inspiring them to do the same with their own ideas. This is exactly what I hope to do: to learn about how global leaders’ policy can support the innovations that drive inclusive and sustainable growth so that I can contribute my background to the execution of collaborative solutions with fellow youth from around the world. Specifically, I wish to use world leaders’ resolutions at the APEC 2015 Summit as inspiration for ideating social enterprise and business ideas, together with fellow Voices of the Future participants, which achieve the APEC Summit’s developmental goals.”

It is his robust background in intercultural negotiation that will be a crucial asset to the realisation of this vision. Throughout his years he has portrayed true leadership skills and has led UNSW Music Society Jazz Ensemble since 2013. As a 2015 APEC VOF team leader he will contribute intercultural negotiation and leadership experience to create the foundation for collaboratively realising development goals.


Ben Galea photo

Ben Galea

Ben is a Bronze Duke of Ed Award Holders, and is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts (major in Developmental Studies), and a Bachelor of Science (major in Natural Resource Management, and minor in Earth and Marine Science). Ben has a passion for sustainable development and the management of ecological resources. Through his studies, Ben is exploring issues of inequalities in living standards, and seeking to apply science and education to reduce these inequalities and contribute especially to agricultural development.

He believes the APEC Voices of the Future summit is a great platform to cultivate ideas and create strong networks between young leaders in the Asia Pacific, what he calls an area of great potential. “I would hope to learn a lot about the lives of the other participants, the limitations and potential of sustainable development in their regions, and the dreams and plans they have for positively changing the future… I would use the insights gained at APEC for my future studies to enhance my understanding of inclusive economic growth and the actual implementation of sustainable development.”

For the past year Ben has been a Queensland Youth Strategy Ambassador, highlighted by the Qld Government for his ongoing volunteering and participation in many different parts of society. In addition, Ben has been actively involved in rural and indigenous communities, being chosen by his residential college at the ANU to go on the annual trip to Doomadgee, an indigenous community in the Gulf of Carpentaria. He was also recently a member of the selection committee for the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) Heywire Innovation Grants for 2015. As a regular volunteer for Canberra ‘Friends of Grasslands’, cutting down woody weeds in Stirling Park to restore the native ecosystem, Ben has been able to build on his academic studies and get involved in his new home of Canberra.


Madelin photo

Madelin Strupitis-Haddrick

Madelin is a Gold Duke of Ed Award Holder, and is in her first year of a Bachelor of International and Global Studies. She has 6 years of involvement in public speaking, debating and the ‘Justice & Democracy’ society at Brigidine College St Ives, and was the Brigidine Debating Captain in 2013. She was a key organiser of the World Vision 40-hour famine at Brigidine College St Ives 2012, and was consequently shortlisted for the position of World Vision Youth Ambassador 2013.

She speaks fluent French and is intermediate in German. She reflects a life of service to the community as her community involvement shows. She has been a member of the OLPS Church Music Ministry for the past 8 years, also volunteering for Lifeline (2013) and the St Vincent de Paul Society (2010-2011).

For Madelin, participating in the APEC Voices of the Future 2015 summit would be a momentous privilege in providing experience of the workings of APEC and the opportunity to actively discuss issues related to trade and inclusive growth with young people from across the Asia Pacific Region.

“Interacting with young people from across the 21 APEC member economies will be valuable in developing these understandings and achieving new skills in cooperation. In collaborating with youth from diverse member states in APEC-related discussions, I hope to achieve greater inter-cultural understanding, a range of perspectives and a sense of camaraderie based on recognition of common goals. Through this, I can work to promote better understanding between the youth generation in the Asia Pacific Region through fostering an appreciation for and insights built upon our commonalities, differences and shared global context.”

Through participating in the APEC Voices of the Future summit, Madelin aims to draw on her experiences and extensive knowledge of international relations and cross-cultural experience. Having participated in and assisted with student exchange for the past 4 years, and worked in fostering integration, understanding and good relationships amongst a largely international student base in a boarding school, she has had unique experience learning and adapting to foreign cultures as well as promoting this amongst wider groups of young people. Overall Madelin hopes to combine this with her understanding of international trade and its ramifications to determine strategies for inclusive growth and to promote mutual understanding between the young people in the Asia Pacific Region.


Headshot Sophie Walter2

Sophie Walters

Sophie is a Gold Duke of Ed Award Holder, and was school leader for Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award participants and School Captain. Sophie hopes to disseminate information about APEC activities and priorities to young people in the member nations, by establishing a blog and/or online journal that provides a forum for the views of youth and publication of articles that are directly relevant for young people, which may then be relayed to key decision-makers.

“Promoting better understanding between young people in the Asia Pacific Region would include establishing working relationships with other young participants in Manila, reaching out to past young participants, establishing forums for the exchange of key ideas, conducting relevant projects in member nations, and seeking to build alliances with leaders.”

Through participating in the APEC Voices of the Future summit, Sophie aims to explore how APEC can continue to have a meaningful impact on the growth and development of member economies, identify health and other key issues that affect young people, promote governments’ involvement is such matters, and establish friendships and connections with young people who share the same passion to contribute positively to the sustainability of each of the 21 countries.

Sophie has also been a Youth Consultant at KYDS (Ku-ring-gai Youth Development Service), 2011-2014, helping to devise policies, procedures and programs for marginalized youth, and has authored several publications, including in peer reviewed journals. In addition, Sophie was invited to speak at the 2014 International Women’s Day at an event hosted by the Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association of Australia (PPSEAWA) and has presented on “The Rights of the Child” at the Annual Janusz Korczak Commemoration at the Sydney Jewish Museum. Through her involvement in various community activities, Sophie has been recognised with an Australian Defence Force Long Tan Leadership and Teamwork Award and several other awards, and has received commendations in the 2013 Marie Bashir Peace Award and Order of Australia Association 2014 John Lincoln Youth Community Service Award.


Ruth Parsons Photo (2)Ruth Parsons

Ruth is a Gold Duke of Ed Award Holder, and is in her second year of study completing a multidisciplinary degree of Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of Policy Studies. Ruth has a keen interest in economics as a science, particularly in combination with other disciplines that influence economic decision-making and policy outcomes. She has worked full time for 6 months at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, an organisation aiming to promote healing and growth in Australian Indigenous communities.

Ruth strongly believes in the ability of policy and diplomacy to create meaningful change and hopes that participating in the Voices of the Future conference will enable her to make a difference.

“I hope that this conference will provide me with a deeper understanding of regional issues, and assist me to better understand Australia’s present and future role in the Asia Pacific region, and the perspective of our neighbours. I hope to gain a better understanding of international trade matters and how domestic and international policy can affect diplomatic relations.”

She has been a participant in United Nations Youth Conferences, and is a recipient of the Australian National University Centenary Scholarship. In the future, Ruth aspires to be a policymaker, believing that prudent policymaking can aid inclusive growth.

Read more about APEC 2015 Voices of the Future Forum