by Apajok Biar
On the last weekend in July, 100 young people came together at the State Library of Victoria for Save The Children’s National Youth Summit. The summit brought together some of the best and brightest young minds in Australia to draw up a youth manifesto for the new Federal cabinet.
Apajok Biar, Multicultural Youth Ambassador to MYAN NSW, was there to represent young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
The National Youth Summit was fantastic! Being around 100 passionate, politically engaged social justice advocates from all over Australia was an experience like no other. It was an honour to be able to work collaboratively and have the opportunity to influence social and political change about issues that affect us all – as well as representing the voices of refugee young people in NSW.
Being around 100 passionate, politically engaged social justice advocates from all over Australia was an experience like no other.
It was inspiring to see young Australians care about such a vast range of social issues. We discussed asylum seeker rights, action on climate change, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, gender inequality, rural and regional issues, education, health, employment, social welfare, international development and aid – the list was so long!
Throughout the day, we worked in groups to identify some major issues, then brainstormed solutions and recommendations. These recommendations were compiled into a manifesto and will be delivered to the new Federal cabinet, the opposition and key political parties.
The first workshop I participated in was about the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. The discussion was outstanding, enriched by many of us sharing our personal stories and experiences. We talked about resources and programs that are available and it felt great to share our knowledge. Federal Labor MP Tim Watts was seated at our table. He represents the seat of Gellibrand in Melbourne’s western suburbs, an area that is incredibly culturally diverse. Tim was very receptive of what we had to say and the crucial issues we spoke about.
The second workshop focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights. It was such a timely discussion considering the recent events in the Northern Territory. At the same time as the summit, just outside the library, a protest was happening. This made it seem all the more important to convey our thoughts and recommendations to government. My group created a short video about the issues and what is currently being done. It felt important to open up a discourse about what we can do to contribute as advocates who are not Indigenous but who are passionate nonetheless.
The whole experience was definitely an eye opener – seeing what like-minded young people are doing in their states and discussing possible ways to adapt some of their great programs here in NSW and vice versa. I can honestly say I did not leave that summit the same person. I have made truly great friends and networks that I know I will have for a long time.