They are the ratepayers and councillors of tomorrow, but many Wollongong teens have never had any contact with the city's council.
That could change if Kristian Williams has his way.
The Berkeley man and father of teenagers, Rhianna and Kyle, has come up with a detailed plan for a Wollongong Youth Council to give young people a chance to have their say on important issues, while also learning more about how the council works.
In his submission to the Draft Community Engagement Policy, the neighbourhood forum 7 convener argued the program would "empower more youth in the presence of their own peers to engage more readily with council".
The program would be voluntary and involve Year 10 and 11 high school students from the Wollongong council area.
Students and supervisors would gather regularly over a six-month period to take part in youth council meetings.
"Kids can engage with similar-minded youth from different schools, they can also raise similar issues or inform each other of different issues they wouldn't have thought of," he said.
While young people would be the focus, there were also advantages for the council, Mr Williams said.
"As a side benefit, council gets to engage a community that they wouldn't normally get feedback from and the youth learn more about council as well," he said.
Mr Williams said the youth voice tended to be under-represented through other forms of community engagement, such as kiosks or neighbourhood forums.
"They're all held at times that are inconvenient to youth or exclude the youth from attending. If you're going to have community engagement, it has to include all facets of a society," he said.
"They probably don't even know that they're allowed to have an opinion and that someone might listen to them."