ACYP and Multiculturalism NSW – Ideation program

On Friday, 7th of April, Nikki Ma and Safrina Chowdhury attended the ACYP and Multiculturalism NSW – Ideation program which allows young people to vocalise their ideas and strategies to help bring inclusion in the NSW community. Here is where the girls gained their profound experience.

The program started off as two co-hosts introduced themselves and the overall purpose of ‘Ideation’. We have discovered that many of the speaker and guest appearance each has their own story involving ‘multiculturalism’ whether it is revolved around culture, sexuality or socio-economic statuses. Firstly, we were introduced to Raymond Williams, the Minister of Multiculturalism and Disability services. We were also introduced to Hakan Harman who is the Chief Executive Officer of Multicultural NSW. Following after, we had young people with unique personalities who fought with exclusion from the community. One of our favourites were a 15-year old young Russian Muslim girl, Stephanie Kurlow, who pursued in becoming a professional ballerina. As the ballet industry does not accommodate to Muslim girls, Stephanie’s mother opened a dance class which allowed her to fulfil her dream. Her struggles and determination inspire us to broaden our perspectives on the concept ‘inclusion’. After recess, there were other guest appearances, such as, the representative from the advertising agency McCann, who created the famous and funny commercial for Melbourne metro lines, ‘Dumb ways to Die’. Another guest speaker was Subeta Vimalarajah, a young University student who started the ‘STOP TAXING MY PERIOD!’ . The aim of the project was to gain sanitary rights and decrease the expenses. Speaker after speaker, they had the passion and the potential to influence us and to help us realise that there is a major flaw in the issue of inclusion, hence, we as young people should strategise to further cause a chain reaction for acceptance.

After lunch, commenced the small group discussions which was broken up into three sections containing questions relating to inclusion in NSW. First, we broke down the issue of inclusion in NSW and then we developed strategies to increase inclusion. Each table consisted of students from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds. During this process, students were allowed the opportunity to openly share their own experiences with others around their group and listen to how they have felt in situations where they may have either been included or excluded in. These conversations were extremely valuable in voicing thoughts that wouldn’t usually be heard or raised in our daily lives. We were able to listen to a girl who flew down from Orange discussing her experiences with the foster care system and her own sense of inclusion within a family through the support she received not from her blood members but from people who cared for her and she cared for likewise. Another girl who had come from the North Shore also shared her experience of how there is a lack of diversity within communities like hers that are predominantly from Anglo Saxon background and hence drives the need to integrate various cultures such as introducing various cultural festivals. We also got to identify the difference between primary and high school life and the distinct separation of our mentality towards inclusion as we children age. Strategies which we had developed included how the issue lies mostly within society rather than the government and so we can all help increase inclusion by learning to listen, to unite and share our similarities and differences and learning to accept. Furthermore, education was a vital key to increasing inclusion as it raises awareness towards the themes of inclusion such as multiculturalism, diversity and racism. A suggestion we raised even included changing the curriculum for subjects like history where we can include more diversity of other countries. By the end of the day, all the responses from the groups in the entire event were to be collected and used as data by the NSW government officials in a report to be written based on our ideas to further increase inclusion which was really amazing to know that we had contributed our part to changing and developing NSW.

The overall event was an invaluable experience with reflection, we had gained a deeper understanding of the issue of inclusion and we were able to feel extremely grateful for the privileges we have in our lives. Hopefully, in the near future we can contribute to initiate change gathered from the inspiration we had received out of Ideation 2017. The key resolution we had developed as a whole to further increase inclusion is that we NEED to break down barriers between conflicting groups and reconcile as one…so one thing we would like to ask is that if you see someone at school who seems to be excluded, please reach out to them and start a conversation! By connecting with others, you are already increasing inclusion and a simple conversation could change someone’s life and lead you down a rewarding journey.