Priority 5: Young people are confident and strong in their identity and culture and are supported in their community

Young people are connected to their culture, language, beliefs and identity and feel accepted and valued within their communities.

Our promise, Your future gives young people more ways of connecting to their communities, accessing opportunities locally and celebrating their culture and diverse identities. Establishing–and re-establishing–connections with friends, peers and the wider community has never been more important as we learn to live with coronavirus.

We will learn from and build on the work of so many young people who are bravely speaking up to make our state a better and fairer place. This strategy recognises the power of young people to create social change and tackle the big issues. Whether it’s fighting for social justice through the Black Lives Matter movement, calling out sexual harassment and gender inequality, or demanding real action on climate change, this strategy will invest in young people to create positive change.

Our promise, Your future wants every young person to know that their identity and culture is valuable and unique. We know that deeply understanding a young person means recognising that their lived experience is informed by the many parts of their identity. For young people that experience marginalisation, challenging or negative experiences are often fuelled by structures of power imbalance and discrimination (for example, ableism, racism, homophobia, sexism). We want every young person to know they are seen and valued for every part of who they are.

This strategy is helping to ensure every young person across Victoria maintains and strengthens their connections to community and culture in ways that support their wellbeing including:

  • culturally safe supports that work towards Aboriginal self-determination
  • local events that celebrate culture
  • opportunities to get involved in their community through sports, recreation and arts
  • study and job opportunities in regional and rural communities so young people can stay close to home and their networks.

‘As a disabled queer person, I have had some experiences with discrimination and it can really negatively impact on my ability to be involved in my community.’
– Survey respondent, 19–21 years old

Our commitment to young Victorians under priority 5 is …

5.1 Partner with local government and the community sector to provide local youth hubs in priority areas. Co-design these with young people, drawing on lessons from the Latrobe Youth Space co-design process.

‘Improved public transport and bike lanes can address both environmental and financial issues… the city does not need to be so car-dependent.’
– Survey respondent, 22–25 years old

5.2 Support access to local mentoring and work experience opportunities for young people, partnering with business, government and community leaders and role models.

5.3 Embed the diverse voices and needs of multicultural, multifaith and Aboriginal young people in the roll out of the new anti-racism strategy.

‘90 per cent of young mob don’t even see themselves moving away, because that is so foreign to them [while] there are young mob who do that. But it is too overwhelming for most. Their comfort zone is where they live since they don’t have anyone to show them the steps and navigate that.
– Aboriginal youth forum participant

5.4 Partner with Aboriginal communities to deliver youth services, noting the need for flexibility to align with any future iterations of a self-determined and ongoing representative body for Aboriginal Victorians and Traditional Owners established through the treaty process. Focus on investing in strengths-based youth programs including mentoring and culturally based support services.

5.5 Under Victoria’s volunteering strategy, increase volunteering opportunities for young people across a broad range of sectors including arts, entertainment and sport. Improve communication and flexibility around volunteering opportunities.

5.6 Target the needs of disabled young people through Victoria’s new state disability plan. This includes removing barriers to social, civic and economic participation, and supporting equitable access to services, information and opportunities.

5.7 Support young LGBTIQ+ people to foster connections with peers and older LGBTIQ+ communities.

5.8 Improve supports, including access to mental health and wellbeing services, for LGBTIQ+ young people in regional and rural Victoria.

5.9 Promote community connections and support the health and wellbeing of trans and gender diverse young people.

‘The pressure to be ‘young leaders’ when young mob are seen to be doing well in community. They can’t or are unable to make mistakes because they are torn between being a role model and being young.’
– Aboriginal youth forum participant

‘Many young people have to leave regional and rural areas to study or gain employment as these opportunities are not available in their local areas. Services such as doctors or mental health support can also be inaccessible. Public transport is also a massive issue in regional/rural areas as it is a large preventative factor in attaining employment or education.’
– Survey respondent, 19–21 years old

Case study: The impact of recognising place and culture

Young person, 17 years old

My name is Maddison. I am a proud Wurundjeri girl and I started at the Aboriginal Wellness Foundation back when I was 12 to 13 years old.

I’m now 17 and I’m in my fourth year of the program, I’m also studying year 10 in high school. Throughout the program I was faced with some amazing opportunities. I travelled to Adelaide for the Dupang Festival twice, danced on the MCG for Essendon at the dreamtime game, went on multiple camps, made damper at Bunnings, participated in multiple flag-raising ceremonies and danced on different Countries.

Throughout the program I have helped with the kids in the younger group, playing traditional games and keeping an eye on them when needed. I have had some tough times during the program with mental health and with some people, but I always had someone to help me in the group.

I was lucky enough to make some incredible things and participate in activities such as making a possum skin pouch (first year), making an emu feather belt for dancing (first and third year), making a possum skin belt for dancing (second year), participating and trying to make a basket and making some clapsticks.

The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation has had a massive impact on me over the four years. It has really helped me be more confident with myself and my culture and has given me so many experiences I will always remember.