April 3, 2018

Advance Diversity Services (ADS) is looking for young people aged 15 to 24 to be part of its new Youth Reference Group. You’ll help drive social change on issues that matter to you – while developing leadership and professional skills for your future career and studies. Jenny Tang, Multicultural Youth Worker for the Settlement and Community Services Program of ADS, explains why you should consider being part of the team.

What prompted you to set up this new Youth Reference Group? What’s the need for it?

As a team working with young people from culturally diverse backgrounds, we want to give young people a voice in the community so that their ideas and opinions are heard on the issues that affect them. We want to be able to consult with young people to make sure that our own work at ADS truly reflects their concerns and needs, but is also informed by the strengths they bring. We want to equip young people with the skills and the knowledge to become leaders and to achieve the change that they want to see.

Have you seen something like this working effectively elsewhere? 

The Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network has a Multicultural Youth Ambassadors Program, which also aims to give young people a voice and equips them with skills to advocate on the issues they care about. It’s a great program.

What can happen through this channel that might not happen effectively without it? 

Without this group, we would not be able to consistently consult young people regarding our programs and initiatives. We might miss out on some wonderful ideas for advocacy or community engagement that a fresh and young perspective can offer us.

What freedom will the young people have to set their own agenda? 

Youth Reference Group members will have the freedom to work collaboratively to come up with their own ‘constitution’ of sorts, under the guidance of the Youth Workers. They will be able to choose the issues they feel passionate about, and put forth their own ideas about how to best tackle them. Of course, these must be subject to standards regarding respect for other political, religious, and personal beliefs.

How will what the young people decide feed into ADS’s or other local community or broader decision-making? 

ADS is part of several youth interagency networks including the St George Youth Network, Sutherland Shire Youth Network, Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network, and SSI’s Youth Collective. ADS also  often participates in advocacy and other policy work. The members’ ideas, concerns and decisions will be fed through these platforms to give them the widest audience possible. Members may also have the chance to attend conferences and speak at events.

Are there youth issues that need to be addressed in ADS’s catchment area in terms of external funding or government policy change that won’t find traction without the voices of young people getting behind them? 

It’s hard to pinpoint specific issues, but we know that proposals that come with evidence that’s based on consultation with the target group will certainly find more traction.

What’s the incentive for young people to get involved?

There will definitely be opportunities to develop leadership and professional skills such as public speaking, grant writing, project coordination, and meeting and networking with new people. We’re also hoping members will find it rewarding to be making a difference on important issues. These are all things that they can later put on their resumes to help with their future career. Oh, and there will be snacks at the meetings and fun team building activities every now and then (such as rock climbing). Incentive enough, we believe!

How do young people apply?

For more information and to get your application form, please email us at [email protected] or call Jenny or Salvin on (02) 9597 5455. Applicants must live, work or study in the St George or Sutherland Shire areas, be aged 15 to 24, and be from a culturally diverse background. Applications close April 22, 2018.