Young Leaders Forum

Dozens of young people from refugee backgrounds tackled the major issues facing refugee youth at the inaugural Young Leaders Forum in April, with employment, education and health leading the agenda.

Held at Fairfield Youth and Community Centre as part of National Youth Week, April 8-17, the Young Leaders Forum brought together almost 50 people from refugee backgrounds aged 15-25 to share their ideas and have their say on issues affecting their lives.

Led by Settlement Services International (SSI) with the support of the Youth Collective and organisations in the NSW Settlement Partnership (NSP), participants took part in workshops, activities and consultations with the aim of connecting young people and helping them to further develop their leadership skills.

Participants discussed barriers to employment, education and health, and offered suggestions to help young people integrate with their local community and access the support they need.

Former refugees from Syria and Afghanistan also took to the stage with musical performances and inspirational speeches, highlighting the vitality young people bring to their local communities.

SSI Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) Service Delivery Manager Yamamah Agha said National Youth Week was a timely reminder of the valuable skills young people from refugee backgrounds contribute to Australia.

“Young people from refugee backgrounds are incredibly resilient, but they also bring a wealth of unique skills and talents to Australia that we can all learn from,” she said.

Ms Agha also stressed that today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow, and made a special mention of the importance of supporting young people to realise their potential in Australia.

“The benefits of bringing young people together to share their talents and skills is remarkable; it helps to improve their confidence, encourages young people to engage with others, and it helps them to realise and appreciate their strengths,” she said.

“This has a major role to play in helping to shape the future of young people in Australia, which is why National Youth Week is such a major SSI celebration.”

SSI, with other partners and organisations in the NSP, delivered a series of events during Youth Week, including the MY-LIFE Youth Camp, hosted by the Community Migrant Resource Centre.

The camp gave young people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds the chance to learn new skills and build on their strengths.

With adventure sports and activities over three days, the camp allowed young people to make new connections in a relaxed environment, which helps to improve social connectedness and sense of belonging.

For information on upcoming youth projects and events, visit the Youth Collective website.

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