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Hugh puts his faith in youth

A strong social conscience runs deep in the family of Mosman teenager Hugh Bachmann. He tells Andre Khoury of the Mosman Daily about his passion to make a difference.

THE thoughts of most teenagers during the holiday period usually don't extend beyond summer, surf and sand. But with Hugh Bachmann, it's a little bit different.

While the 18-year-old knows how to enjoy himself, he also thinks about the disadvantaged and underprivileged in society here in Australia and across the world. And he's doing something about it.

While planning to study law this year Hugh is also hoping to, with the help of World Vision, continue to volunteer with disadvantaged sections of Redfern's Aboriginal community.

It is something he experienced for the first time last year, working with World Vision's youth movement Vision Generation as a group leader.

The group met and co-ordinated with Aboriginal elders to help fight indigenous poverty.

``It was absolutely amazing,'' Hugh said.

``We visited the Redfern community centre, we saw a lot of the public housing, the local gym, the art gallery.

``We talked to the locals and absorbed as much of the culture and asked as many questions as possible.

``It was sort of trying to grasp and get a first hand of what indigenous poverty is, why it's there and the opinions the locals had of it.

``Because this was a kind of one-off experiment by World Vision I hope to keep in contact with my fellow volunteers and continue the work.''

Hugh's strong sense of social justice extends beyond Australia.

Last year he travelled to Cambodia as a volunteer with his former school North Sydney Boys High to help with an aid project. He helped build 14 houses in impoverished and remote regions of the developing country.

``This experience was life changing having the rewards of being able to volunteer in a community and being welcomed into it as a member, worker, friend and equal,'' Hugh said.

``The smile it brought to the families' faces and just being able to experience the differing culture was indescribable.

``Working for a non-government organisation has always been a passion of mine, but especially after this adventure I have become devoutly passionate about working in the developing world.''

Hugh said young people had an ``extraordinary amount of power to make a difference''. ``Our voice is very strong,'' he said. ``If we stand up and actually speak we can make a difference.

``Especially with indigenous poverty and indigenous issues, they are very complicated and I think it's one of a few issues that I feel are better handled by youth because it's a different generation and we can look beyond the path a bit easier.

``We're the next leaders, we're the way forward. In the future the way we handle different situations will obviously be influenced by how we have been brought up.''

Hugh's upbringing and the role of his parents Christine and Leigh has certainly influenced his outlook on life.

Hugh's three older siblings have all travelled overseas to volunteer.

His sister Anna, 25, is currently in Costa Rica helping to build a school. She has also worked in Vietnam. Hugh's brother Nick, 21, is in India doing aid work with a farming co-operative.

``It's really important to give to other people in all sorts of ways,'' Mrs Bachmann said. ``I guess you also grow spiritually by helping other people.

``I think what's important is that if you've had the privilege to have had advantages and options in life that you don't lose touch and realise people haven't had the same advantages as you.''

Hugh puts his faith in youth