Bullying, career opportunities for young people, community safety, mental illness and youth inclusion were some of the leading issues raised at the recent Blacktown City Council Youth Forum.
More than 100 students representing 10 schools from across Blacktown City attended the special Youth Forum where young people were given the opportunity to address Council and play a part in shaping the City’s future.
Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdle OAM said: “I am delighted to see so many young people passionately express themselves, and give us their ideas about this City.
“These are our future leaders and we are all impressed with the confidence the students presented in the Council Chambers. They are an outstanding group of people.”
The Forum also highlighted increased student awareness and acceptance of the gay and lesbian community in western Sydney, a heightened awareness of the local environment, the impact of family violence and how to deal with crime in the area.
Students called on Council to host a mental first aid course in schools, organise pride events such as the Mardi Gras in Western Sydney, and to nominate a ‘graffiti art wall’ to enable young people to express themselves artistically.
“The youth forum has proved to be a fantastic opportunity for us as community leaders to hear directly from young people what’s important to them and what challenges they face in their lives,” Mayor Bleasdale said.
“It was also great to see the students work together in different groups and address Councillors and Council’s executive staff. The students were articulate, intelligent and passionate in putting across their views,” Mayor Bleasdale said.
Blacktown’s Youth Ambassador Evan Ademovic encouraged young people to grab opportunities and get involved in youth programs in the community. “If we want to be heard we need to take advantage of opportunities in the community,” he said.
The value of the Forum was summed up by Blacktown City’s second Youth Ambassador, Ebony O’Connor.
She said: “We as young people have been handed a troubled world environmentally and politically and it’s time for us to lead the way to make this world what we want.”
The Australian Catholic University will shortly open its information centre in Blacktown ahead of its first student intake to its Blacktown campus next year.
ACU’s future Students Coordinator, Jack Tropea, addressed the Youth Forum and said later, “It was a great forum and the students appeared genuinely excited by the prospect of attending university so close to home.”