Melissa Li is an Ariel Foundation International (AFI) Young Ambassador, who is a 16-year old Chinese-Australian. She is an avid advocate for racial equality and migrant rights. Melissa was compelled to start her own non-profit ProvokeWoke, following her awareness of the polarising racial divide in her community. ProvokeWoke aims to incite a cultural shift towards inclusivity and acceptance by educating and empowering high school students through training days, workshops, events and educational resources. To date, Melissa’s organisation has impacted a physical audience of 2000 and many more indirectly across Australia through the conversation and education that she has inspired.
Melissa has received other opportunities to leverage her voice outside of her non-profit. She has spoken at the Australian Human Rights Commission on the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, inducted new citizens as the guest speaker at an Australian Citizenship Naturalisation Ceremony, and advocated at the UN Headquarters in New York to promote multicultural institutions and more inclusive societies internationally. In Melissa’s advocacy, she has compiled a High Court of Australia case pleading for the extended stay of a refugee family and lobbied federal politicians such as the Foreign Affairs Minister on immigration and refugee policy in Australia. She has been recognised for her work with an Australia Day award as Young Citizen of the Year and by the WeAreFamily Foundation’s Global Teen Leader program. You can read more of her work on Huffington Post and VICE Australia, where she has previously contributed.
Melissa graduates from high school in 2019 and looks forward to studying Political Science or Public Policy at university. She believes that it is an honour to represent youth voices for Ariel Foundation International as a Representative at the UN as an AFI Young Changemaker and endeavours to fulfil the role with great responsibility to those she is representing.