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Youth Voice - Communities That Care Stonnington

Youth Voice - Communities That Care Stonnington

In 2017 Communities That Care (CTC) Stonnington established the Youth Voice to feed into the decisions made by the CTC Stonnington Community Board and to highlight issues facing young people that may not have been captured through the CTC Stonnington Youth Survey. Funding was granted to the Youth Voice from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s Local Drug Action Team program to enable the ongoing involvement of young people in CTC Stonnington. The Youth Voice provides a valuable snapshot of the needs of young people and enables CTC Stonnington to be adaptive to changing youth needs.  

The CTC Stonnington Youth Voice aims to influence the knowledge, attitudes and decisions of community leaders in Stonnington by making them more aware of the views and experiences of young people through community events and insight. Ultimately this will contribute to the development of programs, services and policies that are more responsive to the needs and interests of young people, and therefore more likely to be effective.  

In the initial months of the Youth Voice, key actions were to meet and discuss the data collected through the CTC Stonnington Youth Survey. The participants highlighted relationships between the survey findings and their experience, noting key areas absent from the data included gambling, social media and gaming. The Youth Voice then brainstormed the broad key issues effecting young people in Stonnington and how they could create change around these issues.  

The Youth Voice provided insight into the issues facing young people in Stonnington, removing any potential assumptions that may have been present. By involving this group in the CTC Stonnington process, the community board learnt of emerging areas of need that may not have previously been considered (e.g. investment in evaluation of a gaming program). A key outcome achieved by the Youth Voice was the creation of a short film called Talk About It. This film was produced with facilitation support by Storyscape on the issue of mental health and young people. The film can be viewed here: This film was launched at MARS gallery with more than 50 people in attendance. 

We have learnt that recruiting young people is challenging and a turnover of participants should be expected. The age range for the Youth Voice is 15 years and older, with limited participation from students entering Year 12 and young people disengaged from schooling. It is important to schedule meetings at suitable times after school hours and hold meetings consistently throughout the year to build momentum. The Youth Voice works well with guidance, goal setting and capacity building. Food at meetings is always appreciated and vouchers to acknowledge the time commitment of the young people involved are well received. We have learnt that to have a project truly youth-led, the content needs to be something that resonates with all participants, something they are passionate about and feel they can influence.