Who is Jane Chen?

I’m a young second-generation Chinese-Australian, currently living on the unceded lands of the Eastern Kulin Nation. I live and breathe sociology, and I’m a policy thinker, writer, speaker, researcher and youth advocate.

What sparks a fire in you, and why?

I’m passionate about tackling systemic drivers of social inequalities, particularly by reshaping policymaking and research processes. It’s frustrating that people like me are often just the objects, targets or beneficiaries of social policies – not the people at the decision-making tables. It’s disempowering, and, more often than not, it leads to poor outcomes for communities. Intersectional and lived experience-led approaches to policymaking should be the norm.

What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?

Professionally, I’d say my greatest achievement to date would be overcoming severe imposter syndrome to present my Honours research at the International Social Innovation Research Conference in 2020 (albeit online, due to a pandemic)!

Who is your hero and why?

My heroes are the many young women of colour who have defied odds to become trailblazers and leaders. They say “you can’t be what you can’t see”, and yet there are so many brilliant people who, in the absence of role models who look like them, have stepped up to achieve great things anyway. I’m proud to call many of these people my friends.

What is your most treasured possession?

My ever-growing collection of books! 

Why did you apply to be the MYAN YAN representative for VIC?

I’ve volunteered across the multicultural and youth sectors in Victoria for several years now – there’s something really invigorating about this work. I wanted to build on my experiences through MYAN YAN, by connecting with young people in other states and finding new allies, and hopefully creating impact at a greater scale.

What skills and talents are you bringing to the YAN 2021?

I come with my lived experience, knowledge of the Victorian multicultural and youth sectors, policy analysis, writing and public speaking skills, and a dry sense of humour.

What are you hoping to achieve in 2021 as YAN’s VIC representative?

I’m looking forward to working with YAN representatives across the country to remind governments and organisations that there should be ‘nothing about us without us’ – we’re here, we’re loud and we’re clever, with lots of ideas. I’m also particularly interested in supporting anti-racism initiatives.

What advice do you have for young people wanting to make a difference in the world?

Look after yourself! There’s plenty of advice out there about why it’s important to fight for social justice, how you can leverage your skills and interests, and where you can be most effective. It’s easy to get lost in all this, and forget that ‘making a difference’ will be a long road and a collective effort – so don’t let yourself get burnt out.

How can young people get involved in the work you do?

I’m always happy to offer advice on getting involved in policymaking or community organisations, hear perspectives on tricky social issues, and chat – both to young people, and to people who want to know how best to support young people. You can find me at


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