No discussion about the role and future of youth work would be complete without some of the sharpest thinkers and doers in the youth space: young people themselves. That's why we were thrilled to host three days of incredible presentations, sessions and workshops led by passionate young leaders and change-makers at our 2017 conference, Front + Centre.
Aref is a young Hazara man who sought asylum in Australia in 2009. As a passionate photographer and video storyteller, Aref uses his skills to share his story and positively contribute to the community. He is keen to share his settlement experience and the challenges he faced to inspire service providers, decision-makers and community members to initiate positive changes in Australian society more broadly.
Aref joined the panel discussion for session 1: the big picture on Wednesday 18 October 2017. Together the panel discussed what it means to be a youth worker in 2017, what a youth worker might look like in years to come, the collective hopes and goals of our sector and how we can go about achieving them.
Edie Shepherd is a proud Balardung and Wiradjuri young woman, and youth work student at Victoria University. Edie was drawn to the youth sector after discovering that a biomedical science degree wasn't her cup of tea. She is an outreach organiser at the Young Worker's Centre, delivering the education program and training high school aged young people about their rights to work, and the power of collective action. Edie also works with young people to build leadership and organising skills, supporting them to roll out their own campaigns which seek to improve their workplaces.
Edie also joined the panel discussion for session 1: the big picture on Wednesday 18 October 2017 and shared valuable insights for the role and future of youth work.
Alex is the former campaigns communications director at Oaktree, Australia's largest youth-led anti-poverty organisation. Alex first began her journey as a campaigner as a high school student with Oaktree's community leader program. In the years since, she has led on an innovative youth voter enrolment campaign that engaged over 100,000 people and has been a strong advocate for ethical, values-based communication within the aid and development sector. Alex is passionate about working in solidarity with communities experiencing systemic social and environmental injustice. When she isn't campaigning, Alex loves creating delicious vegan treats, busting some moves on the dance floor and hanging out with her book club.
Alex presented as part of Front + Centre's session 5: Telling powerful stories on Thursday 9 October 2017. She shared her insights for using the power of stories to help us tell stories of youth work that are authentic, compelling and impactful.
Fostin ‘Fofo’ Nshimirimana is a songwriter, poet, dancer, youth worker and event manager who lives in Melbourne’s west. Fofo is also a co-founder of The Movement Records where he is in charge of managing and developing new and emerging artists. Born in Burundi and arriving in Australia in 2007 via Tanzania, Fofo was reunited with his family in Kings Park, Melbourne. Fofo is committed to community arts practice and using his cultural heritage, pride and identity to promote harmony and awareness in the community arts sector. In 2013, Fofo was named Brimbank Young Citizen of the Year, and Brimbank City Council’s Youth Ambassador in 2013. Fofo was also awarded second place in the Australian online poetry competition in 2014. Fofo is passionate about using the arts to drive positive social change and to help other young men, specifically young African men who have experienced hardship, poverty and war-related crimes, to find a voice and a place in Australia’s rich multicultural society.
Fofo presented as part of session 6: sparking change through collaborative arts on Thursday 9 October 2017. Fofo helped talk to the Victorian Government's recent boosts to investment for the creative industries, and how creative arts collaborations with young people can make positive social impacts and strengthen communities. He even served us up an impromptu rap!
Nevo Zisin is a young activist, member of Minus18, student, public speaker and the author of newly released ‘Finding Nevo’, a memoir on gender transition. Nevo engages in activism which attempts to spread awareness and understanding around LGBTIQ+ issues. Nevo was assigned female at birth and has had a complex relationship with gender. Coming out as a lesbian at 14 and as transgender at 17, Nevo now identifies outside of a female/male gender binary. They are also a contact point in the Jewish community for other children and families confronting issues of gender and sexuality in their own lives.
Nevo joined the panel discussion on young people, gender and sexuality as part of session 7 on Friday 20 October 2017. Presented in partnership with Rainbow Network and Healthy Equal Youth (HEY) Grants, the session aimed to contribute to the timely discussion, considering Victoria leads the way in supporting LGBTIQ+ health and wellbeing. But despite advances in achieving equality and cultural acceptance, LGBTIQ+ young people still regularly experience discrimination, marginalisation and bullying, which have profound negative impacts on their wellbeing. Nevo helped us learn how youth work can create safe and celebratory spaces, affirm and support young people across the rainbow of sexual and gender identities.
Aayushi Khillan is a year 11 student at Mac.Robertson Girls High School. She is also a member of the VicSRC Student Executive Team for the 2017-2018 term. People often describe her as quirky and ambitious. She is super passionate about student voice and can’t wait to enact real changes to our education system.
Aayushi contributed to session 9: youth engagement — once more, with meaning! on Friday 20 October 2017. Together the panel discussed the meaning of youth engagement and how we can successfully work alongside young people and support their active participation in our programs and communities.
Alyssa is a Year 10 student at Bendigo South East College and a member of the VicSRC Student Executive Team 2017/2018. Her passion for student voice began when she was elected into her school’s Year 8 SRC Team. Alyssa is ready to take on the world of student voice and represent students across Victoria because she believes students deserve to be heard in the education system — because it is their education after all!
Alyssa contributed to session 9: youth engagement — once more, with meaning! on Friday 20 October 2017. Together the panel discussed the meaning of youth engagement and how we can successfully work alongside young people and support their active participation in our programs and communities.
Curious about Front + Centre?
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