Orygen was buzzing with the ideas, contributions and achievements of young people as they took centre stage at two key youth participation events last month.
Orygen’s Youth Advisory Council hosted the ‘By young people for young people’ symposium that provided a platform for more than 100 young people and support staff from 36 organisations from across the country to connect with each other and to share their work and experience of youth participation.
More than 20 young people shared their thoughts, along with a number of inspiring keynote speakers working in mental health.
Members of the Youth Advisory Council facilitated workshops that will see the production of a resource, created solely by young people, that will focus on the challenges and the personal and professional benefits of being involved in youth participation.
Emma Cole, a member of Orygen’s Youth Advisory Council, said the group wanted to create a toolkit to educate young people on what meaningful youth engagement is. “By bringing people together who are currently involved in this area we were able to gather the most relevant and accurate information,” Ms Cole said.
“It was fantastic to know we were trusted with heading the creation of a large-scale event for other young people and had been given the chance to create something we ourselves would be proud to attend.”.
Andrew Synott, a youth peer worker at headspace Sunshine said that of all the youth engagement and participation conferences he had attended, none had compared to the standard or energy of the Orygen-run event.
“From the amazing young people running the day, the inspirational young guest speakers, and the remarkable other young people in attendance, never before have I felt as heard, energised and empowered in advocating for positive change in the youth engagement and participation field,” Mr Synott said.
The day wrapped up with an inspiring panel discussion on the influence that young people can bring to the future of youth participation and a commitment to ensuring that the voices of young people are heard and valued by organisations they partner with.
After a successful two-year working partnership with Orygen, the members of the Youth Advisory and Youth Research Councils also came together for their final face-to-face weekend. The weekend saw council members participate in workshops and staff members provided project updates, but it was reflection and celebration that was a central focus of the weekend.
Council members discussed their experience of being a part of a council and the particular role they played, said Kristi Van-Der-El, Orygen’s Youth Participation and Engagement Manager.