National Youth Week 2010 - Young People Direct Forum
15th April 2010, Swan Hill Town Hall
They may be small, but their hearts are strong and their voices loud! Young people gathered in Swan Hill on 15 April 2010 to prove just how powerful the voice of youth can be.
The purpose of the forum
In celebration of National Youth Week 2010, the Office for Youth's Young People Direct program, in partnership with National Youth Week, the Victorian Multicultural Commission and Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, hosted a statewide forum for young people to come together and discuss issues that are important to them.
From Melbourne to Mildura, Bendigo to Yarrawonga, over 60 young people from a range of different backgrounds travelled to Swan Hill for the chance to have their voices heard.
No matter their culture, their colour, their tastes in music or their school uniform, Swan Hill Town Hall was a place of respect, welcoming individuals from all diverse backgrounds.
The Office for Youth holds a YPD forum every year, with last year’s forum being held in Benalla. This opportunity gives young Victorians the chance to inform the Victorian Government about real youth issues.
It’s a rare opportunity, but an exciting and valuable one!
How the day went down
The starting bell rang at 9 am with teens rocking up in buses and cars, on bikes and even skateboards.
All young participants were made to feel welcome. They were given the chance to meet other young representatives from all over the state.
Time for the serious stuff
The young people were placed at different tables across the room, where they would share in the discussions about Victorian Government policy. These discussions gave an opportunity for them to learn, share and inform.
Topics such as identity, community connection, body image and discrimination were the main discussion points for the day.
Up-and-coming actress and hip hop comic Candy Bowers kept the atmosphere fun and engaging.
With her South African heritage, Candy shared stories about how she found it hard to fit into the status quo of the media world. Her funky rhymes and refreshing views gave confidence and inspiration to the young people.
Lunchtime rolled by and not a moment too late. Everyone’s tummy was rumbling after the intense first half of the day.
A selection of mouth-watering foods from a diversity of different backgrounds was on the menu. The delicious range of vegetarian, Halal meats and gourmet hamburgers made it almost impossible to put the fork down and keep it down!
Local Indigenous comedian Kevin Kropinyeri was set to perform, but Murphy’s Law has a way of biting you in the behind on days like this. Kevin’s car had broken down 90km out of Swan Hill. Poor brother!
But this did nothing to stifle the electrical mood of the forum! The young people took complete charge and displayed their own hidden talents. Local young girls from Mildura and Swan Hill performed songs for the audience, some of which they had even written themselves!
The first half of the day had kicked off to a brilliant start!
The day finally came to a close and concluded with a discussion among the whole group. This allowed people to report back on recommendations and actions that had been discussed in their individual groups.
The young people made a lot of great suggestions. Some focused on the need for more youth activities in rural communities. Others spoke about the importance for more motivated and culturally competent teachers in schools.
Stricter alcohol licensing. Positive role models. Family support. Accessible counselling. The right to cultural celebrations. These are just a few topics the young people named as important.
The Office for Youth is preparing a report on the Forum. This report will capture the voice of the young people and contain direct quotes from what they said. Their voices will be used to influence positive change within the Victorian Government (this report will be available on youthcentral once it has been completed)
It was a remarkable day that gave recognition to our future leaders.
The courage and the passion of these young people made the impossible seem possible. They had a solution for every issue.
They were there to have their voice heard, and at the end of the day I believe it truly was.
For more about National Youth Week, check out www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/nyw. For more about Young People Direct, check out www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/ypd, and for more articles about Community & activism, check out our Articles archive.
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