Stories from Current Members - Emily


Girl Guides Australia would like to introduce you to Emily Smith!   Image of Emily


Emily is one of our amazing Girl Guides, and she has recently won not only the NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year Award for 2014, but also a Queen’s Young Leader Award. We had a chat with Emily recently about all of her experiences and achievements with Girl Guides.


Emily, can you tell me a little bit about your history with Girl Guides?

Of course! I joined Brownies, which is now called Junior Guides, when I was eight years old. I then moved on to Guides, where I completed my BP Award, and Senior Guides where I completed my Queen’s Guide Award.

As part of my Queen’s Guide I did a leadership focus, which meant I was able to go back to my old Junior Guide unit and work with them as a junior leader when I was 15. When I was 18, and in my first year of University, the unit leader left and I put my hand up to take over the unit – which you can imagine was pretty daunting at that age!

In 2011 I started a Guide unit with my friend from Guides and I’ve been leading there ever since.

Last year you were named the NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year for 2014 and, most recently, you were selected for the Queen’s Young Leader Award. Can you tell me a little bit about what these awards have meant to you?

I got nominated for the NSW Youth Volunteer award anonymously, I still don’t know who nominated me! It’s a phenomenal award to have, and so humbling. It was really nice to get that recognition.

I got the NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year Award right at the end of last year and then I found out about the Queen’s Young Leader Award soon after, but I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone for about 6 weeks! I didn’t think I’d have a hope at all of getting that. I’m still really overwhelmed that I have been selected but really excited about the opportunities that it will bring.

Can you tell me a little bit about what’s involved with the Queen’s Young Leader Award?

This year in June I’ll get to travel to the UK where Her Majesty, The Queen will present the award to myself and the other 59 young leaders that were selected. While we’re in the UK there’s also a ‘residential week’ where we’ll be able to meet experts in a variety of different fields, which will be a great networking and training opportunity that I’m really excited about.

I’ll also get to participate in a 12-month leadership development course, which they deliver online through the University of Cambridge.

The other part of the award is that you get set up with a one on one mentor that helps you work on and develop either a program that you want to start or a project that you’re already working on. A big reason I applied was for the mentoring opportunities.

The project that I'll be working on with my mentor will be implementing the Voices Against Violence Curriculum across Australia.

Can you tell me more about the Voices Against Violence Curriculum?

It’s a curriculum that sits inside a larger campaign called Stop the Violence. It was written by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in conjunction with UN Women, and was launched in 2013 at a side event during the 57th UN Commission on the Status of Women. I was part of the contingent that launched it.

The Voices Against Violence Curriculum is really targeted at giving girls and boys the tools and strategies to begin to dismantle some of the discriminatory social norms that lead to gender based violence. For example, by teaching boys and girls about the ways in which norms like gender stereotyping can lead to violence, we can begin to breakdown some of the things that lead to or normalise violence.

The curriculum also seeks to address the increasing rates of peer on peer violence that we’re seeing. Domestic violence and intimate partner violence is quite often framed within an adult context, however increasingly studies are showing that teenagers are experiencing the same violence at the same rates.

You’re also heading to the 59th Commission on the Status of Women in New York this year – can you tell me a little bit about what you’re expecting?

This year is really different from every other year because it’s the 20-year review of this landmark agreement called the Beijing Platform for Action. The big defining factor of this year is that they’re going to be introducing a declaration on the Beijing Platform for Action, which in essence is a declaration on women’s rights, which is incredibly exciting!

Ideally the declaration will address a lot of areas that are currently lacking, such as violence against women and girls and also things like economic participation and youth participation. Ideally it will also prioritise the girl child. We find the girl child is often forgotten, and still shrouded in a lot of paternalism, and that’s something that the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts lobbies governments on a lot.

So this year a lot of the work we’ll be doing is around that declaration, and ensuring that girls' rights are recognised and brought to the table.

With so many things happening this year what are you most looking forward to?

I’m really excited about going to New York for the 59th Commission. It’s a chance to really experience the international side of Girl Guides. I love meeting people with different experiences and from different walks of life. It’s always a really exciting thing to connect with other Guides and know that anywhere you go in the world you’ve got your Guiding sisters.

I’m also really excited to travel to the UK in June for the Queen’s Young Leader Award. I’ll get to meet and connect with people all over the world doing phenomenal projects in different areas; it’s really just awe-inspiring what everyone is doing.

There are also so many Guiding events coming up! Guiding is so exciting, there are so many fun things to do all the time, and so many opportunities. My friends always ask, “How are you going to New York? How are you going to the UN?” and I’m like “Girl Guides! Join it!”