Shout Out: recognising and building the capacity of young refugees
The project in brief
Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY)
Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Australia (MYAN)
Established in 2014 and began operating in 2015.
Shout Out is an innovative youth leadership program that supports young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to share their experiences and perspectives on issues they are most passionate about with the broader Australian community. It recognises and builds the capacity of young people as important actors in creating welcoming and inclusive communities.
Young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds have a wealth of unique perspectives and fresh ideas to contribute to Australia’s rich diversity. However their voices are often stereotyped, marginalised or invisible in mainstream culture and this can negatively impact their sense of belonging in Australian society. While there are many specialist voices willing to talk about youth issues and Australia’s multicultural society, we think it’s often more insightful and meaningful to hear from the real experts – young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds themselves.
Shout Out is an opportunity for young people to redress the balance and present their stories and experiences to audiences who may not usually have the chance to meet or hear from them.
By training young people in public speaking and connecting them to speaking opportunities at a range of public forums, Shout Out empowers and enables young people to be active citizens and actively promote positive perceptions of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds as knowledgeable, respected, active and influential members of our communities.
Shout Out aims to:
Empower young people to express their views in public forums,
Train young people in public speaking and media relations,
Increase community exposure to and public understanding of the perspectives and experiences of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds and the positive contributions they make to Australian society,
Increase community recognition that young people’s perspectives are valuable and important in public discussions, and
Provide a mechanism/system that is easy and efficient for stakeholders to use and promote.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Shout Out involves an initial intensive training weekend that covers topics such as leadership, storytelling, professionalism and self-care as public speakers, followed by a presentation afternoon where speakers will have an opportunity to present to CMY staff and the leadership team, ongoing speaking opportunities, individual speaker support, regular catch-ups and professional development.
There are currently 34 Shout Out speakers - 17 women and 17 men from 19 different cultural backgrounds including: South Sudanese, Vietnamese, Afghan, Burundian, Congolese, Indian, Somali, Samoan, Sri Lankan, North Sudanese, Zomi, Filipino, Kurdish, Indonesian, Kenyan, Pakistani, Eritrean, Syrian, and Cameroonian. 15 of these young people are from a refugee background. Speakers have been trained to deliver fresh, engaging and thought provoking perspectives for a range of settings across Melbourne and Australia, including: schools, local councils, business and corporate sector, community organisations, groups and events, government departments - state and national.
Speakers are engaged to: present on topics from their perspectives and experiences, participate as emcees, facilitators and panel members for events, deliver keynote speeches and provide comment for media outlets.
Young people are asked to speak on a broad range of topics, including: multiculturalism/cultural diversity, education, refugee/migrant/asylum seeking experience/journey and settling in Australia, participation/volunteering/leadership, racism/discrimination/unconscious bias, identity and belonging, health and wellbeing/mental health, sport/recreation, active citizenship, empowering women, justice and police, drugs and alcohol, family violence.
Challenges and how they were overcome
The need to continually raise awareness that the experts in the challenges and opportunities for young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds are young people themselves and their voices should be taken into consideration with the same weight and credibility as adults, in policy making and service design and delivery, if not more. We have reviewed our communications materials to promote the benefits of and good practice in youth participation.
Traditionally, public speaking events have been thought of as ‘opportunities’ for young people to participate in and for their development, rather than an opportunity for others to hear and learn from them - so their time and efforts have not been rewarded/compensated appropriately.
A lack of acceptance of young people being remunerated through financial payment for speaking on issues affecting them.
We have always had a minimum payment structure to ensure young people are receiving reasonable remuneration for their contribution and encourage booking organisations to offer more if they have the capacity to do so.
Ensuring adequate resources are directed to managing the booking system, including the increasing volume of requests
Results of the Good Practice
Shout Out continues to grow in strength and reach and has established itself as a successful model to support young people as important actors creating positive change. There has been a large increase in requests for speakers, having more than doubled since the first year. Due to this significant increase CMY has run several mini recruitment drives to bring on board new speakers. 57 speakers have been recruited in total, with 34 speakers currently active.
125 speaker sessions were booked, with Shout Out speakers presenting to over 8000 audience members throughout 2018
33.5% of young people who completed the post-speaking feedback form were offered other volunteer, work or speaking opportunities by stakeholders at the event as a result of their speaking appearance
In 2019, in response to a proposal from young people, CMY expanded Shout Out to include a specialised mental health stream – with young people recruited to raise awareness about mental health, address the stigma of mental health and increase understanding about the context and needs of young people from refugee and migrant background. Speakers receive specific training and support from CMY and mental health service providers to co-design and co-deliver safe and culturally-relevant conversations at secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
Stakeholders who engaged speakers through Shout Out reported:
Increased understanding of the experiences and perspectives of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds and
Community recognition that young people’s perspectives are valuable and important in public discussions.
Young people involved in Shout Out have gained public speaking and media engagement skills, developed their networks across sectors and industries and gained employment or work experience. They value the opportunity that Shout Out brings to engage with the wider community to build understanding of the experiences of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds in Australia. They see this as an important platform for promoting positive stories of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, countering negative stereotypes and creating and inclusive and welcoming society.
Since its inception in 2015 , Shout Out has also expanded to other Australian states – in Western Australia (delivered through MYAN WA) and Tasmania (delivered through Multicultural Youth Tasmania (MyT).
Rana Ebrahimi, National Manager, Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) /Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Australia (MYAN)