Close Search
Changemaker  |  Social IssuesYouth

Rallying the young to rise up

16 February 2023 at 3:16 pm
Ruby Kraner-Tucci
As chair of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, Sarah Ramantanis advocates for young people to take their seat at the table and explore their full potential. She is this week’s Changemaker.

Ruby Kraner-Tucci | 16 February 2023 at 3:16 pm


Rallying the young to rise up
16 February 2023 at 3:16 pm

As chair of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, Sarah Ramantanis advocates for young people to take their seat at the table and explore their full potential. She is this week’s Changemaker.

They say age is just a number and for 25-year-old Sarah Ramantanis, age has set no boundaries on her impact across the for-purpose sector.

Chair of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) – the peak body representing over four million young Australians – Ramantanis has dedicated her early career to advocating for youth empowerment, engagement and participation.

The media and communications graduate has had stints at high-profile not for profits including World Vision Australia, UN Youth Australia and the General Sir John Monash Foundation. In the philanthropy field, she’s added NEXUS Australia and Philanthropy Australia to her resume, as well Kids in Philanthropy, where she sat on the board.  

Ramantanis also founded KOS Magazine, an online publication spotlighting people doing good in their communities, and is an advisory board member for the Centre of Youth Policy and Education Practice at Monash University.

“One of the hardest challenges of my career to date was trying to actually land a job, even when my resume had all the experience I could possibly get for my age,” said Ramantanis.

“Then it hit me. If it was so hard for someone who has all the resources, support and drive to be successful, how difficult must it be for other young Australians with significant barriers in terms of educational access. I was determined to ensure that young people felt supported to become the best version they can be.”

As this week’s Changemaker, Ramantanis unpacks her definition of leadership and why young people need to be given a seat at the table.

How did you get elected chair of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC)?

On my 22nd birthday, in the year that COVID-19 started, I landed the chief communications officer role at United Nations Youth Australia and started working in marketing at Philanthropy Australia. This was my chance to act as a voice for young Australians in the year of the global pandemic and learn about the power of giving and how it can help progress tangible change.

I learned that, at the time, there wasn’t a funded national youth peak body, which meant there was an enormous barrier to youth gaining access to having a seat at the table and being involved in decisions that would ultimately shape their futures. 

I reached out to the board of directors of the AYAC and pitched how I would be able to support the organisation in becoming a funded youth peak body that could drive solutions to issues faced by young people around the country. One thing led to another and I not only got onto the board, I then became the chair. I have most recently been re-elected for another two-year term.

What does this role mean to you?

AYAC represents young Australians to the government, providing youth-informed policy advice and supporting policy makers to consult with young people. This is not a position I take lightly. 

We have the responsibility to show up for young people, amplify their voices and create impact on a national, even global scale. This role has given me confidence to believe in myself, believe in society and taught me what it takes to take Australia to the next level. 

AYAC represents over four and a half million young people and counting, it’s a true honour to be the chair of the board.

What do you value as a young leader?

I value dedication, respect and authenticity.

Leadership takes dedication. There’s no way to know how to be the best kind of leader, you just need to be dedicated to want to constantly self-improve and to bring others forward. You need to be passionate about your role as a mentor and understand how much effect you can potentially have over someone’s wellbeing.

Leaders need to respect others. You cannot be a successful leader on your own, otherwise who are you leading? Learning from others and valuing a range of perspectives make for the best types of leaders

I have four parents, my mum and dad got remarried and I couldn’t have asked for a better upbringing. One thing that I noticed about all of them was that they were all contrastingly different people. I have tried to take different aspects of each of them to formulate my overarching decision-making. There is no right or wrong perspective, it is worth learning from others to become the best version of you.

Finally, people appreciate authentic and genuine people and you will enjoy anything you do in your life if you are always staying true to yourself and your moral values.

Why is youth participation and empowerment so important?

Youth empowerment is incredibly important. It enables leaders of the next generation to live up to their fullest potential. You have to provide young people with hope for their futures to have them authentically engage as powerful people amongst society to ensure that a progressive future is possible to achieve. 

Through organisations such as UN Youth, Kids in Philanthropy and the reason why I created KOS Magazine was that these platforms provide youth with the opportunity to make a difference and to contribute solutions towards global issues that affect their lives

In my future, I hope to see many more organisations provide opportunities for young people to explore their full potential in order to trust the ability of their leaders.

How does Australia fare when it comes to giving young people a platform and voice?

There are avenues in which young people can have their voices heard on a national scale. The Australian government’s National Youth Policy Framework, launched in 2021, acknowledged the challenges faced by young people, particularly from the impacts of COVID-19, and outlines how the government is listening to and backing young Australians, but there is still a long way to go. 

It is not only about having the opportunity to have their voices heard. It is providing young Australians with a seat at the table, having them lead on driving solutions. Young people want to see a future that is inclusive, accessible, and empowering for everyone without discrimination, and with collaboration.

What motivates you?

All young people motivate me to continue to lead them forward. I have met some inspiring, humble, ambitious young Australians. There are many of them working hard to make a positive difference, even when they may be facing great challenges within their own lives, potentially with mental health, financial stress, family matters, access to resources – the list goes on. And these amazing people continue to persevere in the hope for a better future. 

It’s the courage within them that motivates me to be the best I can be everyday, even during hard times.

How do you decompress from work?

To be honest, I used to struggle with this. When I was younger I was always striving to be the best, pushing myself significantly hard and not knowing when to stop until I would burn out. But now, I understand how important self-care is and actually listen to my body when I need it. 

When I do take time out, running is my form of therapy. I know that won’t sound relaxing to a lot of people, but it is actually the only time in my days where I get to be on my own, enjoying the outdoors and feeling grateful for everything that I have. 

I’m also a sucker for a trip to the beach, watching a good film or spending time with family and friends. I do all of these acts of decompression whenever I can, rather than ensuring I work a specific amount before I relax. I find it healthier to just do as I feel.

What do you want your legacy to look like?

I’m only 25 so this is not something I have spent too much time pondering. But if I had to say what it would look like now, I think it would be the amount of lives that I positively impacted. 

That feeling of helping someone is so rewarding and I hope to help as many people as I can throughout my life. Whether it be inspiring someone to try something new, being nice to someone when they were having an off day, or even as simple as buying someone a cup of coffee, hopefully I can always remember to put others first.

Ruby Kraner-Tucci  |  @ProBonoNews

Ruby Kraner-Tucci is a journalist, with a special interest in culture, community and social affairs. Reach her at

Get more stories like this


One comment


Choosing change

Deb Tsorbaris

Monday, 13th February 2023 at 4:06 pm

New Early Years Strategy to include sector’s experiences

Ruby Kraner-Tucci

Tuesday, 7th February 2023 at 4:37 pm

Australia needs a plan to combat the effects of emergencies on children

Deb Tsorbaris

Wednesday, 18th January 2023 at 10:00 am

Philanthropy take note, the next youthquake is coming

Ed Krutsch

Wednesday, 7th December 2022 at 7:11 pm

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook