Resilience, vibrance, diversity, strength. Just some of the many characteristics and contributions made by young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Ones that deserve recognition and acknowledgement.
Today, International Youth Day (IYD), provides an opportunity to celebrate the actions, achievements and voices of young people. Across the globe, millions of young migrants and refugees show their strength and courage through innovations and initiatives that serve to better their communities and the world.
In Lebanon, a team of 14-year-olds packed boxes of winter clothing and delivered them to Syrian refugees. The initiative, aptly named ‘Together we stay warm’, assisted over 1,000 families. In the Netherlands, Asia, a young Syrian social worker, has created a project to help empower young migrant and refugee women. Hadi, a young Afghani artist, draws attention to the importance of community and connection through his paintings and motivational speeches. By selling his artwork, he has raised money for Project Playground, a South African not-for-profit organisation working to improve the circumstances of youth and young children.
The incredible efforts of these young people, plus countless others, do not go unnoticed. In 2021 young entrepreneurs, like Asia and Hadi, who are doing important work in this space were recognised by The Youth Leadership and Innovation Award for Migration. These awards showcase the “youth-led initiatives that empower and improve the living conditions of young people on the move.” This year, finalists included the young people behind organisations like REFUPOET, Global Advocacy Talk and moveurope. Today, on IYD, let’s celebrate them.
A little closer to home, youth from migrant and refugee backgrounds are doing incredibly important work—and making their voices heard. Across Tasmania, young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds navigate resettlement with an energy and vibrancy that imparts important lessons for all of society. Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania’s Multicultural Youth Tasmania program (MYT) provides a platform for these youth to find support, share their ideas and get involved. MYT consists of various projects and programs that, together, help young people from multicultural backgrounds to reach their full potential. Through their involvement in community projects, and their input into programs like the Multicultural Youth Tasmania Youth Advisory Group, migrant youth are developing a strong sense of belonging and supporting other young people to feel empowered. Their participation at all levels of society, from school to employment, helps boost the social inclusion, economic development and cultural composition of the Tasmania community.
For Advisory Group member Ratu Yazid, the MYT program presents a chance to work with other youth from multicultural backgrounds and build an inclusive, supportive community. Ratu recognises the power of young people, and how their voices, actions and ideas matter. “As a young person myself, I strongly believe our voice matters, and it is important for it to be recognized in the society we live in today.”
Tayebeh Karimi arrived in Tasmania as a refugee 7 years ago, and is now part of the MYT Advisory Group. She sees the group as an ‘opportunity to discuss the issues that people from multicultural backgrounds face and make changes for the best of the future.’ Like other group members, Tayebeh is focused on community development, and is joining other young- and brilliant- minds in creating a supportive space for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.
Marie Fetalvero is another member of the MYT Advisory Group. She’s studying Business (majoring in Finance) and Psychological Sciences. The work she’s doing in the Advisory Group aligns strongly with her values – to foster a stronger community and help some of the most vulnerable members of society. “I believe that young people should start using their voice, especially for certain issues such as mental health, which is prominent yet not recognised by some communities.”
Like Asia and Hadi, these are the young people worth listening to. Ratu, Marie and Tayebeh are raising their voices about issues they care deeply about. They have power, and they’re dreaming up a world that’s a little bit better, brighter and more inclusive for everyone.
To ensure Tasmania’s multicultural youth can continue to thrive, contribute and achieve, their value needs to be recognised. Not just today, but every day. From Hobart to Launceston, members of the MYT Youth Advisory Group are encouraging positive change.
Recently the MYT Youth Advisory Group facilitated a statewide consultation with 63 young people aged 12 – 25. They identified topics that they knew mattered to young people, including:
- Education and Training
- Mental Health
- Racism and Discrimination
The consultation provided young people with the opportunity to unpack issues and offer solutions. Snippets of the findings will be shared on the MYT instagram page over the coming weeks, and a report will be published on the findings later this year.
Listen out for more of the positive work these young people are doing in the community, and if you’re a young person needing support or wanting to get involved, visit the MYT website!