A nine-month program that gives young people the skills to become leaders was launched in September.By Riahn Smith
A local youth leadership initiative is helping a group of Goulburn Valley young people to stand up and be heard.
Building a New Generation is a nine-month program that aims to equip people aged between 15 and 25 with the skills and inspiration to become leaders of the future.
The program is funded by the Federal Government’s Local Solutions Fund and was launched in September this year.
It was brain-child of Goulburn Murray Local Learning and Employment Network project officer Rashidi Sumaili.
Mr Sumaili said it was important for young people, particularly those from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds, to be included in community debate and action.
‘‘The young people in this region don’t have a voice,’’ Mr Sumaili said.
‘‘Especially young people from multicultural societies, disadvantaged young people, they are left behind.
‘‘My vision is to take them and give them a voice so they can stand up in this region and to be part of the process, be part of the solution.’’
The program uses local organisations and social institutions to teach young people about their rights and responsibilities and practical ways in which they can engage with the community.
The group attends regular conferences and activity days where they hear from community leaders with expertise in business, governance, law, health, education and employment.
Next year the group will attend a conference in Melbourne as part of an initiative of the Victorian division of the United Nations Association of Australia as well as make a two-day trip to Canberra.
Mr Sumaili said he had already seen positive changes in the group.
‘‘I’m happy, I’m very optimistic,’’ he said.
‘‘At the moment they’re very confident, they have started to share their ideas, to talk about their future .
Megan Bourke is a perfect example.
The Year 10 student from Maguire College said she wasn’t too keen on joining the program when she was first approached, but is now very happy she changed her mind.
‘‘It’s been a great opportunity to have, I’ve already learned so much,’’ the 16-year-old said.
‘‘It’s really been the simple things that have done so well for me.
‘‘I think it’s the people, the speakers, the other group members, everyone’s so nice, the diversity in it, the stories behind them.
‘‘Every single one of them has had a really hard journey, and I just look at them with amazement.’’
The Building a New Generation program will run until June 2013.
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