Conversation, connection and camping for regional multicultural youth

On the first weekend of June, our Regional Presence Project team in Ballarat took a group of young people to Anglesea for a weekend of sand, sea and sunshine.

A diverse mix of mostly high school-aged young people from Ballarat, Horsham and Nhill attended the camp, representing Sri Lankan, Thai, Vietnamese, Karen, Indian and Papua New Guinean cultures. Many have arrived in Australia fairly recently and are still learning English.

Briana Morrison, a Senior Multicultural Youth Worker at CMY in Ballarat, said that being able to witness the young people enjoying the beach and activities was “a big win”.

“For some of our more regional attendees, particularly those juggling study and working in family businesses, this camp was a rare treat,” she said.

“Seeing everyone gradually building their confidence and warming up to each other through ice-breakers, campfire chats and karaoke sessions was especially rewarding.”

Post-COVID, this camp was a significant step towards normalcy. Lockdowns over the past few years of the pandemic negatively affected the mental health and wellbeing of young people, particularly in the regions where they were severely isolated. CMY’s team in Ballarat and Wimmera has been working hard to create opportunities for reconnection for regional youth.

Returning to in-person social events since the pandemic has been difficult for many young people. In addition to having a whole weekend away to spend time with friends, those attending had the chance to make new friends from different regions and cultural backgrounds.

Activities including the giant swing and archery challenged the group to step out of their comfort zones and try their hand at new skills, while practicing and experiencing the benefits of teamwork and peer support. Other activities encouraged inner reflection of one’s values, and how they shape our actions.

One of the young people in attendance, Oh Pweh Moo, reflecting on her experience, said:

‘During the camp, I have become friends with people I wouldn’t have expected to. I found it was very easy to talk to everyone, and that everyone was friendly and easy to get along with. I enjoyed all the activities we did, and there was many laughs. Many memories have definitely been made.’

The coastal adventure camp was held at YMCA Victoria along the Great Ocean Road in Anglesea from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 June. The venture was made possible by a generous donation of $3,000 from the Alfredton Rotary Club, as well as an additional $1,000 donation from a generous anonymous individual. CMY is grateful for the support provided to enable regional multicultural youth to attend.

Find out more about the work of CMY’s Ballarat team.