YACVic’s vision is for young people to be visible, valued and active in our communities. Our member program is just one way we work towards this. Young members can access a wide variety of opportunities ranging from training and events to Young Person Huddles to advocacy to work and community opportunities. But what even is ‘advocacy’ as a member benefit? What do you get out of a YACVic training? We spoke to two of our young members, Brodie and Julia, about how they’ve been innovative with their member benefits during the pandemic. 

Brodie Kamp, Ballarat: accessed YACVic advocacy support

Brodie Kamp is a young volunteer in the Ballarat Youth Services’ Youth Council and Sonika program. He says a lot of young people in Ballarat rely on The Services for job opportunities, as the main avenue to engage with Council, and now also as a primary point of social interaction since the pandemic started. 

When a 37.5% budget cut to the Youth Services was drafted in June 2020, Brodie and the other young volunteers felt compelled to speak up. They worked together to build their case using their strengths - for example, Brodie collated information about the demographics and needs of young people in Ballarat, and rallied other young people to sign the submission. 

The young crew connected with YACVic Rural for guidance in advocating for themselves. “They gave us a pretty good run-through of what to expect from Council, how to deal with them, how to present ourselves, things like that,” Brodie tells. Together they outlined an approach, information to include, and how to go into question time. YACVic also submitted a letter of support to the Council that affirmed the value of Ballarat Youth Services, and the potential impacts of budget cuts for young regional people during COVID-19. 

“I think it really showed Council how much we cared about it,” Brodie shares. “They were all really receptive to what we had to say...they all seemed to recognise that young people needed those services.” Their hard work paid off in spades as they not only managed to keep their funding, they strengthened their relationships with Councillors. 

Brodie notes it can be daunting for young people to speak up to power, but this positive experience has empowered him. “It made me feel like there’s a real opportunity to change things within the community as a young person, just by the fact that people are listening.” He is now also speaking to Council about other important issues like paid opportunities for young artists, which he says he wouldn’t have approached them about before. 

Supporting young people to advocate for themselves is at the core of YACVic.  In Brodie’s words, “the skills I’ve learned could also be transferred to if there’s an issue in the workplace, or at uni, as well as to people in government.” As YACVic members, young people can access guidance on action and knowing their rights for speaking truth to power. 

If you’ve got an issue you’d like support with, check out our relevant eventsour online guide to changemaking Yerp, or get in touch.

Julia Coscolluela, Brimbank: attends YACVic trainings and Young People Huddles 

Julia Coscolluela is a young person who joined the Maribyrnong and Moonee Valley Local Learning and Employment Network’s (MMV LLEN) mentor program as a mentee, and now also runs mentorship trainings. 

Like several people, the pandemic was the first time Julia worked online, so she completed YACVic’s online facilitation training. Julia learned several practical techniques she had never tried before, which she has made part of her regular practice. “It pushed the button in my head that online workshops don’t just have to be me sharing my screen and talking to people … it can be a lot more engaging than that.” She adds, “it really opened my eyes to making online workshops more inclusive.” Now when Julia runs trainings, she not only does things like an Acknowledgement of Country and introducing pronouns, but she makes a point of actually discussing why these things are important.

Julia also found that full-time remote work made going online less fun for young people, and meeting new people became really hard. She decided to start attending YACVic’s monthly Young People Huddles, a fun and approachable space for young people to unwind and connect. “It’s been really positive,” Julia shares. “YACVic [was] such a positive influence on my life in 2020. It was really good to have things that weren’t just connected to work and that also felt meaningful, and like I was doing something important.” 

Within the LLEN, Julia noticed that while the mentorship relationships were positive, she and the other young mentees weren’t getting to connect with each other during lockdown. She successfully approached the project coordinator about running social events similar to the YACVic Huddles, and started up trivia and games nights. Julia found herself even adapting her facilitation skills here. “The online training session also really helped me feel confident to run the social groups. 2019 Julia would not have been confident to do something like that.” 

YACVic knows how important it is for young people to stay connected especially during COVID-19. Beyond events and trainings, our fortnightly Member Alerts deliver heaps of exclusive networking, participation and work opportunities straight to your inbox. 

We’re super proud to be supporting young people like Julia and Brodie. Head here if you’re interested in your own YACVic membership – it's only $3 annually for young people! 

This story is part of our Learning from COVID-19 series, featuring the creativity and adaptions of young people and youth workers. Check out our other stories or share your own.