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06 Dec 2021


Multicultural youth support community wellbeing

Hala, Shaimaa, Subash, Achol and Shahida provided video testimonials to support the
Multicultural Community Wellbeing Campaign.

Over six weeks from October 12 to November 24, SSI reached out to the Youth Workers Network to recruit young people from migrant, refugee and multicultural backgrounds to be part of the campaign.

Building on its engagement with young people throughout the year, SSI was able to connect with five dynamic young people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds to form a working group. The working group also included a youth worker from SSI’s partner organisation, Focus Connect.

Key activities included weekly workshops held by MHCS and SSI with the working group members. The workshops ranged from scriptwriting to the basics of filming with one’s smartphone, to the video editing process.

The goal was to be able to provide video testimonials to support the campaign and encourage young people, their families, and communities, to seek support for mental health.

SSI also engaged an emerging young talent to edit the individual film clips for social media and create a longer, cohesive video.

The result of the partnership can be seen in the strength of the testimonials – which are in Nepali, Hazaragi and English with English subtitles – and quality of work from young people, who were actively engaged throughout the project.

The campaign officially launched on November 24 with an online event, where attendees heard from Bess Bossman (NSW Primary Health Networks) about the Head to Health service and saw the premiere of the video featuring testimonials from Achol, Hala, Shahida, Shaimaa and Subash.

Also in attendance were youth workers from SSI and its partner organisations, as well as the Director and Deputy Director of MHCS, Lisa Woodland and Jesusa Helaratne. The closing remarks were delivered by Dor Akech Achiek, Head of Settlement Services at SSI.

Youth testimonials

Achol and Subash spoke at the launch, sharing their experience of the challenges during lockdown and how they stayed positive and maintained their mental health. Ivania Joya from Focus Connect also read a speech on behalf of Shaimaa.

Subash said the past couple of years were really difficult, coming to a new country and not being able to meet people while he was settling in to his education.

He tried to keep up with physical exercise, especially during the second lockdown.

He recently graduated and couldn’t find work, and had to contend with visa issues. He had seen his college counsellor and that resulted in a few positive changes, but he felt that being part of this campaign was a great opportunity for him as it allowed him to explore and share what he was going through.

He was grateful for the opportunity and said, “The project was designed for me … I had my say, I was always listened to … I was provided good mentorship and leadership.”

Achol spoke about the challenges she faced in not being able to write, as poetry is one of her passions. She said the second lockdown was the hardest and that, although she was working, she experienced a mental blank.

She said, “Although I was working, I promised myself I would write more, however when the lockdown happened I just went into a mental blank and I could just not find the motivation to write anything at all. I would literally sit on the floor and attempt to write and nothing, nothing would come to me.”

She said that although she was working, that didn’t help in her wanting to achieve the goal she set for herself. She said that mental health was never spoken about in the African community, and that young people didn’t have much support from adults.

This opportunity, however, would have a significant impact because it would make it easier to talk about, she said.

Ivania also thanked all of the young people involved and acknowledged their positive energy, saying that they were great role models. She read a speech from Shaimaa, who said that it was very difficult for her to manage her time and get schoolwork done on time. She tried to reduce her screen time and social media activity and instead go for walks with her family.

Confidence, resilience and leadership

Sofia Ahmad, Policy and Strategy Lead at SSI and coordinator of the Youth Workers Network, acknowledged the contributions of the video editor, Eve, who brilliantly showcased the strong personalities of the working group members.

In his closing remarks, Dor Akech Achiek spoke about the Youth Collective and how it emerged from the need to work collaboratively to improve service delivery outcomes for multicultural youth in NSW, by supporting them to build confidence, resilience and leadership skills.

Youth Collective is by young people and for young people, he said.

He also said it was important not to aggravate the experiences young people have gone through but rather to help them find their voice. The video testimonials demonstrate that and really amplified their voices, he said.

Finally, he encouraged people to think about how they could engage further and continue such positive collaborations.

The Multicultural Community Wellbeing Campaign allowed SSI to amplify the voices of migrant, refugee and multicultural youth. Funded by Primary Health Networks in promotion of the Head to Health service, it was a successful and unique partnership driven by young people using their creative talents to co-produce a number of testimonials sharing their experiences and encouraging others to seek support.

See the video messages on MHCS Youtube:

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