Advocating for your passions

Syazwani (Wani) is a Malay-Singaporean woman with a passion for making local change. She’s a member of her school’s Student Representative Council (SRC) and is an advocate for educational equity and better access to healthcare and mental health resources for young people. She is a brand-new addition to CMY’s Metro Youth Advisory Group (YAG), a body of multicultural young people with lived experience who influence CMY’s work.

Wani and her family immigrated to Australia in 2011, when Wani was quite young. The plan was originally for her family to move to New Zealand. Stricter immigration laws in New Zealand at the time made the family decide on Australia instead and they have lived in Melbourne ever since.   

Wani first discovered CMY through a coincidental encounter on social media. Wani was scrolling on Instagram and found a post about CMY’s YAG applications reposted on a friend’s story. After giving it some thought, Wani decided to apply.   

“I was a bit unsure at first. I didn’t think I was qualified enough,” Wani said.  

“I read the description and thought ‘I don’t lose anything by applying for it.’”   

Wani had just recently wrapped up a position with the 2023 cohort of the Victorian Youth Congress (VYC), a mantle she took on due to her interest in advocacy work. Wani has found the transition between VYC and the YAG smooth as there are similarities in the roles, despite VYC’s larger focus on policy.

The Metro YAG has been busy this year already with several YAG meetings and even a YAG Camp. Wani is enjoying her time with the YAG and has already made some close friends.  

“Even though there are differences in opinion, everyone is still working towards a common goal and everyone’s kind of able to hear each other out really openly,” said Wani.  

One thing Wani appreciates about YAG meetings is the cultural accommodations that are made, particularly when Wani was fasting for Ramadan this year.   

“I feel like that’s something I don’t see in a lot of other spaces; working around people’s religious or cultural needs like that.”   

On top of the YAG, she has also volunteered with headspace and is also a captain at her school as part of their SRC. Wani wants to advocate for better opportunities in two key areas. The first is educational equity. From her own experiences and what she hears from other young people, Wani knows that educational opportunities are hard for everyone to access in this country.   

“I know it’s really hard for young people to advocate for equitable funding,” Wani said.   

“Education is a right and so that’s why I think it should be a big focus.”  

Her second passion is providing young people with better access to mental health resources and healthcare. She wants to inform young people about the concept of ‘mature minors,’ and that some young people may be able to access help without input from their parents.  

“I feel like as a young person, especially if you’re a teenager, you don’t really get told how to receive support.”  

“Even if your parents aren’t okay with it, there are ways to still get that help and that should be made clearer to more young people.”  

As she tackles her final year of school, Wani’s aspirations for the future are clear to her. Even though she’s always had a passion for science, she now wants to pursue becoming a social worker. This goal to become a social worker only hit Wani at the start of 2024.  

“I kind of realised that I’m more passionate about helping people in that on-the-ground sense as a social worker.” 

Find out more about our Metro Youth Advisory Group.