19 June 2023

You are not alone - coastal conference to show multicultural youth they belong

| Claire Sams
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people joining hands

An upcoming multicultural youth conference in Eden will reinforce the message that they are not alone. Photo: Hannah Busing.

An invitation has been extended to young people from diverse backgrounds for a conference aimed at bringing them together.

Bega Multicultural Centre manager and organiser of the STAND UP Multicultural Youth Conference, Cayce Hill, said the full-day conference in Eden was a chance to show culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) young people they were supported in their communities and as leaders.

“Typically, we think of our big urban centres as the places where lots is happening,” she said.

“You have this feeling sometimes that as a young person, you’re missing out in regional areas – but that’s not the case at all.

“There’s lots of opportunities for regional youth to connect to culture and opportunity, even though regional areas can be so spread out.”

People aged 16 to 25 from across southern New South Wales and Canberra can register their interest to take part in the youth conference, to be held for the first time on 30 June.

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The conference will involve addresses from keynote speakers, such as comedian and women’s rights activist Yen Eriksen, Sri Lankan-Australian actor Chum Ehelepola, and boxer and youth worker Bianca Elmir.

“There will also be workshops led by our guest speakers, so they’re probably going to be relevant to the industries they work in,” Ms Hill said.

“We’re working with them to organise the workshops, and I’m really hoping for some boxing lessons or acting workshops.

“The idea is the participants can put into practice the things they learned about, but in a really fun and practical way.”

CALD people living in Queanbeyan, Goulburn, Cooma, Bega and Canberra were invited to register.

Ms Hill said it was important that young people from CALD backgrounds saw that they were not isolated.

“We’re talking about multiculturalism, but the experience of someone in Goulburn is different to someone in Bega, and different again to someone in Queanbeyan,” she said.

“Yet, for them to come together and share their experiences is a chance to see that they’re actually not so different in many ways.

“I’m really excited about creating that sense of understanding and belonging for our participants.”

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Ms Hill said that while there had always been diversity in regional Australia, it wasn’t always seen or recognised.

“It isn’t really reflected in the media that Australia exports, which often focuses on these blond-haired surfy types,” she said.

“Multiculturalism in Australia is not new – people have been moving to this area for a long time because of the Snowy Hydro scheme, and of course, Aboriginal people have lived in the area for thousands of years.

“There’s this preconception that is a misconception, really, that this place isn’t multicultural, but that isn’t accurate at all.”

The STAND UP Multicultural Youth Conference will be held on 30 June, 2023, in Eden.

CALD people aged between 16 and 25 can register their interest online.

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