Mirboo North Youth Forum
On Wednesday the 6th September the young people of Mirboo North were asked to gather and have their say. On this windy, howling day, a collection of people arrived late afternoon at the Baromi centre, driven by a desire to get involved. This alluring event was the Mirboo North Youth Forum an interactive session being run by YLab, a youth led design service which has been launched by the Foundation for Young Australians. This event was introduced to Mirboo North and District as an opportunity for the younger generations (12-25) to influence or even dictate content for the Youth Strategy for the South Gippsland Shire Council.
This event not only achieved its purpose, it did more, providing a social occasion at which food was provided and drinks supplied. If you wonder why I mention this, it is simply to tease those who did not show, those who dismissed this as a waste of time. Why?For this was not, to put it simply, a waste of time.
It began at 4pm and ended at 8pm, so was quite an extended but engaging session. The group was small but committed. The respectable YLab representatives, sent to aid us in our efforts to collaborate between the ages, were known simply as Tom and Liam, two very sociable and energetic people eager to help. The other “seniors” as I will address the over 25s present were Ned Dennis, Vivian Williams, Cara Mahoney, Wendy Major, Ruth Rogan and Sophie Dixon. The “youth” in attendance were Frances, Liam, Meagan, Elita, Eliza, Harry, Michael, Hayden and Nathan.
The event began with a simple activity, organised in a circle you would, in turn rotate through all present getting them to state their name, reason for coming and one mediocre super power they would like to have. This was led by Tom, the loud, caring and slightly cheesy apparent leader of the YLab operation. Once every one was introduced, the process of deliberation began. The first step was a verbal survey of what we all thought was important for our community, then we began on physical maps and collections of information, based around questions like, what stops young people from attending events in town? What is the main problem youth experience? How can we solve said problems? The many answers were laid out, pondered over and subjected to judgement and consideration.
Midway through this process, there was a calling for food and if by magic it was produced for us, pizza of many flavours was brought out, breaking up the meeting with some fun and socialisation and then it was back to our work.
After a long process of deliberation we came to some basic and recurring questions and problems. These being transport (both between towns and larger towns such as Morwell and between rural areas and towns), and how to help young people organise large events. The more prominent solutions being brought to council were a rural bus service, which in the long run could produce money for the community and for young people wanting to host events, we concluded the council might help in part but advertisement and promotion would be charged entirely to the youth.
After many hours, many debates and many, many attempts I can soundly say that Mirboo North youth and their interests have now been thrust into the lime light and that we can expect many greater thing to come, for us, for our community and most importantly for the youth.
(One final word of thanks to those who decided to come to the youth forum and give up their time to help the majority of those who could not attend and voice their opinions.)
Recounted, reported and written by Liam Williams