Youth Participation and Engagement


1.       Giving Voice to Young People of Diverse Backgrounds

Having opportunities to voice their experiences and be heard was found to be of foremost importance for young people of diverse backgrounds. Young people experienced a need to communicate their multicultural everyday realities to a wider Australian public. They expressed feelings of marginalisation when they were perceived through these labels: ‘migrant’, ‘refugee’ and ‘CALD’ (culturally and linguistically diverse) youth.  These labels often impeded them from publicly voicing their experiences for mainstream audiences. It is essential that a greater number of quality opportunities be given to young people to express their views to mainstream population. These opportunities can include multicultural programs and events, and youth forums and festivals that showcase young people’s successes and achievements that involve mainstream media exposure.

2. Improving Media Representation of Young People of Diverse Backgrounds

Further to the previous recommendation, our data support strengthening representations and participations of young migrant people in mainstream media. The media has remained an area of trenchant discontent and critique for study participants. It is also a common theme found in other studies related to other groups of young CALD people. The government and service sector should place a particular focus on creating and promoting media opportunities for young people. Training programs for migrant youth and youth leaders should include skills in media engagement to empower migrant youth to be agents of media rather than recipients of media attention.

3. Engaging Youth through Diverse Activities

Our data show that conventional recreational facilities such as sporting places and parks were not very popular across all participant groups. Among the three groups, sports facilities were slightly more popular among African respondents, but were especially unpopular with Arabic-speakers. This particularly aversion to sporting places and parks can be explained by cultural preferences. This finding is antithetical to the significant number of programs dedicate to using such facilities and their associated uses to engage with young people as part of a social inclusion and community belonging agenda. Social and recreational engagement with migrant youth has to go beyond sporting, parks and other mainstream activities. Culturally specific forms of engagement ought to be promoted and resourced as part of an active citizenship model for migrant youth.

4. Promoting Volunteering Experiences

Volunteering experiences of young people in their diverse cultural forms ought to be acknowledged and promoted. This research revealed that young people tended to be involved in a range of formal and informal volunteering activities within and outside their communities for a variety of culturally-specific reasons. The government and service sector can provide different forms of motivation and support for this form of bridging social capital.

5. Cultivating Youth Leadership Qualities.

It was found that there was a need for sustained support in cultivating leadership qualities among multicultural youth. Young people were eager to take on leadership roles and participate in leadership development events. This was particularly for the African and Arabic-speaking groups and, to a lesser extent, for Pacific Islander youth. The government and service providers are encouraged to organise more culturally sensitive programs and events, and create more opportunities to enable young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to participate in youth leadership training programs, leadership forums and related leadership skills building activities.