MYAN NSW has just wrapped up the Refugee Youth Peer Mentoring Project – an initiative to co-design a mentoring scheme for young people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds, funded by the NSW Government.
Collaborating directly with young people from across the state, the sector, refugee communities and government, MYAN NSW hosted a series of interactive participatory design workshops to find out about young people’s strengths and needs, their settlement experiences and how might peer mentoring be used as a tool to help them settle better. Participatory design is all about involving those who use services and products in the design process. At its core is a belief that seemingly intractable problems, such as youth disengagement or social isolation, are solvable. Moreover, it means believing that the people who face these problems are the ones who hold the key to their solution.
Apajok Biar and Hedayat Osyan, two of MYAN NSW’s Youth Ambassadors, were part of the project design team and helped co-facilitate the workshops. “It felt so empowering to finally be involved in developing and planning a program that is FOR us,” Apajok said. “It is exciting having our voices heard.”
Hedayat highlighted the important roles mentors can play. “It’s so critical to have mentors for newly arrived young people to help them integrate into a new society.”
Two project participants, Katreen Dnkha and Harpreet Dhillon, discuss the challenges and opportunities of settling in Australia as a young person.
MYAN NSW Executive Officer, Alexandra Long, says the project is one of the first of its kind. “Often programs for young people are designed without their input, but it’s essential that we listen to what young people have to say and support them to be part of the solution.
“We have to listen to what young people have to say and support them to be part of the solution.”
The next step is for organisations to put the project’s recommendations into action. It is expected that the NSW Government will release a tender in the coming months to deliver the next stage of the peer mentoring program. MYAN NSW collaborated on this project with STARTTS, Navitas, SSI and Western Sydney University.