Earlier this year YACVic Rural and 11 Activators came together to change the game in advocacy and youth participation in rural and regional Victoria. From the coast of Warnambool trailing all the way up to the small town of Cohuna and everywhere in between – this is where our Activators have been building their advocacy projects.
The inaugural Activators program invited young people from rural and regional Victoria to pitch their ideas to us and in return YACVic Rural would provide them with the resources to develop their seed ideas into a realised project. Over the last eight months we’ve ran Activator camps featuring brainstorming sessions, skill-building exercises and in-house training from the YACVic team. It’s been an incredible year for our inaugural Activators program. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate their journey than right here on our blog. Over the next week keep an eye on our blog for more stories about our Activators.
This week we spoke to 18 year old Activator Max Taylor who grew up in the coastal town of Warnambool.
Max hosted Queer Connections – an event that brought together local LGBTIQ+ young people and youth workers to to discuss and problem-solve the barriers faced by rural LGBTIQ+ communities. Max is currently pulling together information from Queer Connections for a targeted and place-based approach to working with rural and regional LGBTIQ+communities.
Tell us about your Activator project. How has the program helped you realise your project?
My Activator project, Queer Connections, looks at the issues that rural and metropolitan LGBTIQ+ people face and what tools can address those issues. I’ve held an event and ran a survey to help me learn about people’s experiences. When I started the Activator program I felt daunted by the task I had set myself. I’d never run an event or published a research document before. I couldn't have done it without the support from the Activator facilitators and my peers. Thanks to the Activators program I built my confidence in workshop facilitation and event planning. My event, held in October, was a huge success. When I started the program, I would never have imagined how big my project would become!
Part of the Activators program has involved attending ‘Activator camps’. What happens at these camps and what’s been the highlight for you?
We've attended three Activator camps (with one more to come) in different locations. The first camp was at Narmbool, a rural lodge, and focused on Activators coming together to draw on our experience as rural young people. It was a great time getting to know each other and this helped us focus on our own personal narrative and Activator project.
You recently ran your event ‘Queer Connections’ in your hometown Warnambool. Can you tell us about the event and what you hoped to achieve from it?
Queer Connections invited LGBTIQ+ young people to discuss the issues they face in both rural and metropolitan areas. The event was an opportunity for me to gather data and anecdotes of people's experiences. It gave me a chance to provide a voice to those in the community who often go unheard. I was also pleased that the event brought familiar and unfamiliar faces together. I met a lot of LGBITQ+ people that I had never seen before and made some brilliant connections!
How did you choose the activities for Queer Connections? Can you explain what a ‘World Café’ activity is?
Queer Connections involved two activities: a panel talk and a ‘World Café’ activity. World Café is a group discussion activity where a facilitator places questions on tables around the room. Groups spend 10 – 15 minutes answering a question before splitting up to go to the next table. The concept encourages people to move around the room and talk to people they might not otherwise know. This creates a dynamic environment for answering questions and sharing ideas. I chose World Café as one of the activities because I wanted to see how conversations could unfold without my bias. I also added rainbow tablecloths to the tables in the World Café activity to make it feel more colourful and fun!
What was the response from your community in Warrnambool to your event?
The Warrnambool community’s response to Queer Connections was overwhelmingly positive. I was invited on two radio shows in Warrnambool to talk about the event. I was also given the food lab space for free by the wonderful staff at South West TAFE. The support from my community gave me the confidence to push forward with my project.
Why is it important for rural and regional young people to participate in programs like Activators?
Rural and regional young people often find it harder to engage in skill-building and leadership-based programs. This is because there is a lack of resources available in rural and regional areas. Young people like me want to develop project management skills such as event budgeting. Acquiring these skills opens the door for young people to pursue further opportunities. The experience I’ve had in the Activators program encouraged me to apply for Ylab’s ‘Ideally’ program, which I was accepted into! Before joining Activators, I would’ve never applied for a program like Ideally because the thought of travelling far and being the only rural participant was always daunting. Now I'm excited to develop my next project and event.
*Photos by Peta Jolley.
Keen to learn more about the Activators?
Find out more about our Activators on our website. You can also follow us on all the socials (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to keep up to date with what our Activators are up to!
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