It was a real pleasure to attend the first 2016 Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) Forum in WA recently.
The Network is the peak body on multicultural youth issues, representing the needs and interests of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. It has offices in every State and Territory and the WA organisation is very active www.myan.org.au/wa/
It holds networking forums regularly for all agencies and groups who are concerned with multi-cultural youth issues. The theme for the first forum was refugees and asylum seekers. During my visit, I met representatives from so many groups and agencies doing outstanding work with our young people: the Red Cross, the Police Department, Princess Margaret Hospital, local Councils, agencies like Communicare as well as organisations like Beyond Blue.
I was invited to speak about my book. I also focused on the need to not just advocate, but to also share positive stories and to correct mis-information so we can engage in better conversations.
My talk was followed by moving and thoughtful presentations from a number of young people who attended a special youth summit about refugees and asylum seekers. Apart from sharing their own personal life stories as refugees, they also presented some suggestions for changing the dialogue about refugees. One of the many things this group has done is start a wonderful Facebook page called Young Refugees of Western Australia which regularly posts positive news stories about young people. Check it out!
I was also delighted to meet Jamila Jafri at the event and to hear her story of fleeing Afghanistan with her mother and her younger brother when she was five years old. She is now 20 and studying at university in Australia. You can read her story on http://behindthewire.org.au/