By Megan Woolley
From national forums to Parliament House, 16-year-old Amelia Ayris of Springfield Central State High School is using her voice to speak up on behalf of the most voiceless among us – children.
Amelia is a 2023 Logan Young Person of the Year nominee. She is an actress, model, singer, writer, producer, and the first Junior Bravehearts Youth Ambassador.
She also experienced sexual assault in her childhood and is bravely sharing her story in hopes to dramatically reduce the rate of childhood abuse.
“It is really important to protect children,” Amelia said.
“My personal experiences and what I have been through inspired me to help other kids.”
Approximately 2.5 million Australians have at some point in their childhood experienced abuse. Of those, 1.4 million have experienced sexual abuse.
Amelia’s advocacy work has earned her several nominations for volunteer awards, including making it as a semi-finalist the 2022, 7 News Young Achievers Award.
Her first national public speaking event was at the National Child Protection Forum in July 2021 in Darwin. But after speaking at multiple Bravehearts galas by then, Amelia was no stranger to sharing her story with large crowds.
There, she spoke to politicians and industry decision makers about how to spot the signs of sexual abuse in children and what to do in the event of it occuring.
“The two biggest things would be to remove the stigma of shame and education,” she said.
“Not only education for a child on how to know you are being sexually assaulted but also as a parent what to do if your child is.
“It’s about giving a voice to those that don’t have one. To me I have this platform and the opportunity to use my voice for good so I like to use my voice to give to those who don’t have one’ and speak out for those who can’t speak for themselves.”
In November, through connections as a member of the women’s organisation Soroptimist International Logan, Amelia was asked to make an official submission for the proposed Coercive Control Legislation in Queensland.
Impressed by her submission, she was invited to the State Parliament House to appear before the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee in a private hearing.
Amelia made a speech to seven State MPs discussing the importance of child safety within domestic and family violence protection (combating coercive control) and was the only person under 18 to do so.
Jordan MP Charis Mullen thanked Amelia for lending her voice.
“Our Combating Coercive Control legislation is so important – thank you for representing the voice of young people and our local community.”
The legislative reform, introduced in October 2022, was landmark for domestic violence prevention in Queensland families that recognises coercive control as a standalone criminal offence.
On top of her charity work, Amelia is an established actor and producer where she uses film and storytelling to tell relevant stories to her peers, with an underlying theme of child safety.
In 2019 she started her own production company, AHA Pictures, and created the 2019 films Short Sleeves about friendship and unconditional love and Signed Anonymous about cybersafety.
Amelia has played Marta Von Trapp in The Sound of Music at QPAC Brisbane, has been featured in films like Living Space and The Secret Findings of Ethel P Clearwater, and appeared on the TV series Grace Beside Me.