Twenty young people from high schools across Sutherland and St George attended youth leadership workshops to prepare for two Refugee Schools Forums held in August as part of the CommUNITY: Awareness, Advocacy, Action project of Gymea Community Aid & Information Service.
At the workshops the young leaders planned to provide over 200 young people with the opportunity to understand a little bit of the life of people from refugee backgrounds.
They wanted to create awareness that students could take back to their schools to cascade learning and take action.
The workshops enabled young people to broaden their leadership skills in many ways: young leaders went back to their schools and their peers to recruit for the forum, designed promotional materials, created films and podcasts and prepared to lead table talk discussions at the forums.
A youth camp was held in early July, providing an opportunity to work with young people from Illawarra Multicultural Services.
Twenty young people spent the weekend together sharing life experiences, making films and participating in challenging activities.
Meeting and talking together with young people who have recently arrived in Australia gave the youth leaders the time to connect with their experiences and build empathy and make new friends.
Team building, personal development and social connections were some of the achievements from the camp. A very active social network was created, with young people meeting up again at filmmaking workshops and planning the forum and the next camp.
There was widespread support from three local councils — Sutherland, Georges River and Wollongong — and community organisations, Jesuit Refugee Services, Shopfront Theatre and 3 Bridges Community.
The unity in community continues to grow.