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SSC Newspaper : August 2013
Strathfield Scene 11 www.ourstrathfield.com.au THE BIG ISSUE “There are lots of programs for the elderly and the disabled, which is a fantastic thing, but there aren’t as many events for the younger people of Strathfield.” — Councillor Stephanie Kokkolis committees were important to promote the achievements of the youth and empower young people so they can make a change to their community. “ What is important with every Youth Advisory Committee is that we play on the strengths of what the community can offer,” he said. “For example, in Auburn, they have placed a strong emphasis on a multicultural community so we based our events and programs on the diversity of Auburn’s ethnic groups. I guess in Strathfield, our focus would be ... froyo! “ We want to promote youth and encourage others to be part of what we do. We want to feel more included.” Echoing Dharmita’s suggestion of festivals, Edwin wants to see more holiday programs to bring together students from all schools and clubs in Strathfield. “Not only do we want to feel more connected with the adults, we also want to get to know kids from other schools,” he said. “ We want to create a youth community in which we can have our say and organise events.” The students agreed that it may be difficult for their committee to create a cool and trendy image, but they are going to try nonetheless. “By creating these sorts of groups and hearing what they want from the community, we are hoping to create an example to show our peers that it’s not ‘daggy’ to belong to a community group,” Edwin said. But for Dharmita, the committee will also be a way to show adults that teens are not just about binge drinking and drugs. “There are lots of negative things in the media about teenagers, especially in a modern technological world, and though we are recognised for our good deeds, sometimes the negatives outweigh the positives. “I feel that some adults think young people are lazy and don’t want to be a part of anything constructive,” she said. “But this Youth Advisory Committee is a way for us to show adults that we care about the community, and that we want tobeapartofit.” Cr Kokkolis, who is the chair of the youth committee, said many of the students she had spoken to felt left out. “There are lots of programs for the elderly and the disabled, which is a fantastic thing, but there aren’t as many events for the younger people of Strathfield,” she said. “Students sometimes feel left out of the community because they feel like they don’t have a voice. This committee is for them to make a contribution and take responsibility for something of their own.” She hopes the students take advantage of their technological skills. She will encourage them to use social media to create events and an online community when the kids can’t meet face to face. “The committee may set up a Facebook page where they can interact with each other. They can organise events and discuss issues related to their schools or sporting clubs,” she said. “But at the end of the day this committee is specifically for the students. The role of Councillor Daniel Bott and myself is to mediate and moderate. At the end of the day we’re here to listen to what they want.” Cr Bott said he was inspired to work on the project because Strathfield had so many schools and a university. “There is nowhere a youth committee is so obviously needed,” he said. But he also insisted that it be driven from the bottom up – through the views of the young people themselves. By Bernadette Chua While the rest of Sydney ages, Strathfield’s demographic is getting younger – not that you could tell by looking at the members of our local decision-making bodies. But that may all be about to change. Strathfield’s leaders of tomorrow are about to be given a voice, and what they say may surprise many who think they just don’t care about their local community. A Youth Advisor y Committee has held its first informal meeting, only a month after the idea was first suggested. It is open to people aged between 12 and 25. In a move akin to mobilising an army – this demographic makes up about 30 per cent of our population – the committee is sending invitations to schools, cultural institutions, sporting clubs and scout groups. Intrigued by the idea that so many youngsters might actually think it cool to serve their community, Strathfield Scene convened an unofficial meeting of the committee at one of the area’s most popular youth hangouts, Noggi’s yogurt bar. Digging into their favourite froyos were Homebush Boys High School captain Scott Worthington, year 12 student Edwin Guo, Strathfield Girls High vice-captain Dharmita Padhi and year 11 student Ally Choi. It was Dharmita who came up with the idea after Councillor Stephanie Kokkolis visited her school last year. A bright, bubbly 17-year-old from Homebush who wants to study law, Dharmita is a strong youth advocate. What she and her peers want from the community is as surprising as it is reassuring. Far from rebelling against the community, they very much want to be seen as part of it. “I’m not the first student to say we want more of a presence in local government and in our community – lots of my peers have approached me about this issue,” she said. “ We feel like we want a say in what happens in our community as well. I think we should have more events focused on young people. For example, maybe a youth festival in the Town Square for local kids or food stalls aimed at younger people after events like Movies in the Park.” Edwin Guo had been searching for a youth committee in Strathfield before finding one in Auburn. He said such YOUTH REVOLUTION STARTS WITH A FROYO We feel like wewantasayin what happens in our community. Dharmita Padhi I hope the Youth Advisory Committee will bring together students from all the different schools around the area so we can create a bigger youth community. Scott Worthington By creating fun events it will hopefully break down the idea that youth events are daggy. Students do want more community involvement. Edwin Guo I became interested in the idea of a Youth Advisory Committee after Dharmita approached me. A lot of my peers are interested in joining. Ally Choi I think we should have more events focused on young people. For example, maybe a youth festival in the Town Square for local kids. Dharmita Padhi
SS July 2013