FReeZA Committees and Audiences | Youth Central

Involving and engaging all people in the local community can be harder than it sounds. Here are some tips to help engage young people in the planning and delivery of FReeZA.

Working with Same Sex Attracted Transgender, Intersex & Queer Young People

Prepared by Minus18 FReeZA

Minus18 is the FReeZA committee of young people leading the planning and staging of events for same sex attracted young people in Victoria. Minus18 develop and promote events and programs that offer an opportunity for same sex attracted transgender, intersex and queer (SSATIQ) young people of different backgrounds, abilities and life stages to work together collaboratively and, in the process, encourage improved understanding of different cultures. Fundamentally Minus18 offers validation, reassurance and safety for SSATIQ young people.

The safe spaces of Minus18 events are of particular importance to SSATIQ young people who may at times feel excluded or unsafe in other settings. The reputation of Minus18 as well supported, consistent and positive is an important factor in parents allowing young people to engage with their community and identity. As such it provides a vital opportunity for young people to explore this identity with parental support.

Minus18 activities have traditionally been largely focussed on dance party type events and these remain a highly attractive element of the Minus18 young peoples work. These continue to be a key feature of Minus18 accessibility and profile amongst SSATIQ people.

Planning & Staging FReeZA Event/s
Minus18 committee members are involved in planning, delivering, and evaluating the project. Young people participate in all stages of the project from organising and running committee meetings, contacting venues and performers for FReeZA events, delegating and sharing various roles and responsibilities, training new committee members and volunteers, and working collaboratively with identified local community based organisations and services.

Minus18 is predominantly run by young people for young people, in partnership with adults. This project is delivered with a young person-centred, participative approach. Minus18 always seeks to remove any barriers to young people’s participation in the project, and get young people involved in all aspects of FReeZA events, starting with the planning, and continuing through each year with the delivery and evaluation of each event and activities with volunteers and the committee.

Within this context Minus18 and {also} sees an opportunity to provide significant support, information, resources and role modelling for SSATIQ young people. In particular Minus18 is committed to working alongside, and providing SSATIQ young people with the opportunity and capacity to be totally involved in all FReeZA planning, events, achievements and celebrations.

Benefits of Minus 18 Events
Minus 18 FReeZA events provide support for SSATIQ youth to socialise with peers, reducing isolation, depression and self-harm. Minus18 events and committee participation strengthen connections for young people with peers, adults and community. The Minus18 committee also increases young people’s skills, confidence, ability to actively engage in their community, and improve the recognition, celebration and promotion of young people’s achievements.

FReeZA events aim to strengthen the local community by building relationships across various sporting and cultural groups and SSATIQ youth groups. Through networking and partnerships young people are encouraged to join one or more sporting or cultural groups on a regular basis, develop leadership opportunities and engage young people with {also} – a peak gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (GLBTIQ) community body.

The Minus18 project includes skills development for young people through leadership, mentoring and peer support. The project provides realistic opportunities for young people to develop skills as leaders. The project supports and informally mentors young people to gain practical skills in budgeting, event management, planning and advertising. The project also increases skills for local communities to promote diversity, community care and increased access to related services for SSATIQ young people and their friends.

Over the past year the Minus18 committee and volunteer base has grown and almost doubled in number. This has also increased the number of young people attending Minus18 and Minus+ events; highlighting a greater increase in first-timers and SSATIQ youth who have recently ‘come out’.

Accessibility & Inclusiveness
The Minus18 project recognises different concerns for young SSATIQ people including cultural groups, rurally isolated young people, and other diverse groups of young people. All events are held in accessible spaces and additional support is available to young people with special needs through {also}.

Minus18 FReeZA events and activities have established partnerships with, but are not limited to: GLBTIQ sporting groups, WayOut Rural Victorian Youth and Sexual Diversity Project, Club Wild, Trans Melbourne Gender Project and Zoe Belle Gender Project, the Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council, and other SSATIQ youth groups and programs. In summary, all Minus18 events are planned with accessibility in mind to welcome SSATIQ youth of all abilities and backgrounds.

Involving CALD Young People In FReeZA

This resource focuses on hints and tips for FReeZA workers looking at engaging with young people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities (CALD).

Young people from CALD communities can bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to FReeZA in diverse music, arts and cultural forms that they are drawn to such as hip-hop, breaking and MCing.

The following are ten tips that FReeZA workers might find helpful when engaging with young people, specifically young people from recently arrived refugee communities, for participation in FReeZA:

1. Engage the young people as early as possible to the FReeZA committee so they can be involved in the initial training, team building and contributions to the vision of the group. Existing services and organisations working with CALD communities can be utilised as they often have existing relationships with CALD young people.

2. Build trust with the young people through seeking to understand the settlement process and engage accordingly. This might involve other sector representatives such as social workers or case workers.

3. Recognise diversity amongst CALD youth. Differences exist amongst CALD young people as well as their communities. Take time to understand the CALD community the young people are from and know the support structures in their community.

4. Allow time for the young people to get comfortable in participating on FReeZa committees and to contribute their diverse knowledge and experiences.

5. Build capacity of the young people from CALD communities by identifying skill gaps and providing appropriate training and support activities.

6. Avoid over consultation during engagement by planning well and utilising some of the suggestions of the checklist below. Over consultation can put off young people from participating.

7. Address language issues. Consider the need to have written, electronic and verbal information translated in plain English, and to engage bicultural workers or interpreters at face-to-face meetings or consultations.

8. Ensure engagement is adequately resourced. Make sure you have adequate resources to cover services such as interpreting and translating as well as culturally appropriate catering.

9. Demonstrate respect by understanding stages in the young people’s settlement, their religious beliefs, practices or cultural protocols.

10. Provide feedback on their contribution and participation in the program. This is probably the most important action you can undertake as it encourages and makes the process of settlement easier for young people from CALD communities.

It is also important to realise that most young people from CALD communities rely on their families and communities for support as part of the settlement process. Hence it might be beneficial to include strategies to expose the FReeZA program to their communities such as inviting your local CALD community members to FReeZA events at Community festivals.

Below is an example of a checklist of possible considerations when planning to involve or work with CALD young people in FReeZA:

  • Have existing organisations or community groups been consulted in regards to how and where to recruit CALD youth into FReeZA? Such as Migrant Resource centres?
  • What pre-program planning has been done to ensure CALD youth and their community embraces the program?
  • What resources and training are in place for the participants? Has extra support been identified if necessary/ such as translation, interpreting services and culturally appropriate catering considerations?
  • Are there any other steps that have been put in place to ensure CALD young people participate without barriers such as meeting venue and transport accessibility?

There are many organisations and programs supporting CALD communities in their settlement in Victoria that FReeZA providers can contact or collaborate with such as the Centre for Multicultural Youth and The Refugee Action Program engaging with CALD young people.

The Centre for Multicultural Youth is an organisation that has specialist resources and expertise in engaging young people from CALD communities including a portfolio of professional development courses.

The Victoria Multicultural Commission run the Refugee Action Program. Organisations funded through this program are potential partners and a starting point to involving young people from recently arrived refugee communities in FReeZA. The Refugee Action Program partners with local agencies across Victoria to work with refugee communities to identify and respond to their needs and concerns whilst assisting them to access existing services.

Involving young people with disabilities

Dandenong’s FReeZA Committee aims to deliver a range of events that represent cultural diversity in their community. The committee recruits young people to participate in organising specific events of interest, such as dance parties, hip hop events, cultural events, Battle of the Bands, and access all abilities events. Throughout the year, the committee organises exciting events that positively promotes local young people, bands, hip hop and culture. First staged in 2009, to celebrate Access All Abilities Week, the City of Greater Dandenong Youth Services FReeZA project met and developed a collaborative project with Wallara Australia, a community based disability service. The event was called Summer Vibe, featuring music and entertainment activities and held as part of Access All Abilities week in December.

Case Study: Summer Vibe

Planning & Staging An AAA Event
In the planning stages a program proposal was completed – this included a site visit with council’s disability services to ensure venue accessibility and discussion around inclusive practice within the event e.g. signage, ramps, parking, toilet access and service worker involvement.

A Youth Committee was then established between the organisations. The group trained over four months in planning the event and developing skills such as organising activities, DJing, MCing, sound, lighting, stage management, promotion and canteen operations.

The training sessions were interactive, used many visual mediums, encouraged decision making, and active participation. It was paced to suit the group’s learning needs with a focus on increasing self esteem and confidence.

Accessibility & Inclusiveness
On the day of the event the young people actively assisted to run the event. Many exciting activities were featured including African drumming, a handball competition, talent quest, bbq, face painting, circus skills, Life Be In It games, Wallara hip hop dance crew, DJ party music, and art design. Young people from the committee MCed the event with support from the main FReeZA Youth Committee. Additionally, several local disability organisations attended with carers providing support to young people to participate in the activities / workshops.

The Summer Vibe event provided young people the opportunity to get to know City of Greater Dandenong Youth Services and become involved in other programs, events and committees. The partnership demonstrated a positive approach to promoting integration.

Engaging your committee members

One of the toughest challenges of being a FReeZA Worker is not falling into the trap of doing too much yourself. The committee should really be a forum where the young people are driving all the ideas for your events – and your job as the worker is to simply make sure they don’t run into any brick walls (be they legal, operational or otherwise).

One strategy to do this, that we as a committee decided to use, and I know a number of other committees use, is to create position titles for committee members to apply and vote for. Our committee, for example, decided it would be a good idea to have one person as a designated Online Manager – someone who makes sure all the gig details go up on the committee Facebook, thinks of ways to promote our committee online, and even responds to band enquiries through the Facebook page. Other roles created included an Arts Director, Music Officers, and even a Street Team Manager.

The important thing to remember is that the position titles and descriptions need to come from the committee themselves. Our committee decided upon seven position titles. These reflected areas we thought needed to be of a high standard throughout the year, not just when we had a gig coming up. As well as deciding on general rules for position nominations (ie. had to have been on the committee for at least 6 months, had to turn up to meetings regularly etc.), the committee talked about each of the positions and what that person’s job should be.

Once this was decided, the committee voted on who they thought would be best suited to every position. It was stressed that the nominated people didn’t need to have a lot of experience in any particular role, such as Marketing and Promotions, but had shown through previous involvement in the committee that they were willing and able to take on the task.

It is important to stress also that roles were not created to exclude other members of the committee from performing similar duties. A committee member other than the Online Manager, for example, would be more than welcome to contribute to the committee’s Facebook if they wished. The committee decided this was also important so that committee members without position titles did not feel excluded. The idea in this instance is instead of asking the FReeZA Worker how to best utilise the Facebook, committee members will now direct their questions to the Online Manager.

This is one strategy we have used and decided upon as a committee which shifts a large degree of the responsibility of running it to the members themselves. There are other advantages for the committee members nominated to the roles as well (such as having a position title to add to their resume!), but the sense of ownership created by the roles should encourage young people to get more out of their contribution to a FReeZA Committee.