An interview with Rosie on her identity journey, work with the Youth-Led Unit and connection to community.

Can you share a little bit about yourself and your motivation behind advocating for young people?

I’m 20 years old, and have always been a driven, young person. I enjoyed school, and at the age of 15, had the opportunity to do work experience at a law firm in the social justice department. That experience changed my perspective on Australian policies and I started to question things.

I think it’s an important point to share that I’m an adopted person. My cultural background and how I relate to multiculturalism is through my biological mum, and my parents are Anglo Saxon White. Recently I’ve been on quite an identity journey, and I think if I had been placed anywhere else in Victoria or Australia, my relationship to racism would be stronger and not as positive.

I’m quite aware of my privilege, the life I’ve been given and the space I’ve grow up in. I feel I have a moral obligation to use the resources available to me to advocate for others.

Why did you get involved in the Youth-Led Unit* and what’s your experience been like?

I stumbled across an opportunity to join the Youth-Led Unit (YLU) a couple years ago, learned about CMY and thought this is exactly where I want to be. It came at an opportune time in my life and identity journey.

To be honest it’s been quite a tough process. I think it’s so rare for a Board to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter happened and for that to shape how they are as an organisation. For CMY to acknowledge that it’s not a youth-led organisation and to support the YLU to come up with a concept. It took me a long time to grasp my head around how much we could do and to really understand its potential.

I’ve learned so much over the two years. We started as a unit and now we’ve moved into a committee of management and I’m the Chair of that committee of management. I run the meetings, liaise with the Executives, and to be doing it at such a young age has been amazing.

In your opinion, what’s the value of the YLU?

We didn’t want to be like anything that was already in the sector. We didn’t want to just create workshops. We didn’t want to just upskill young people. It’s about emphasising that it’s youth-led, it’s actually young people running this. I think that shouts to its potential.

“We’re giving agency to young people. We’re truly enabling them and allowing them to be leaders. We’re empowering them to do what we’re doing right now. We’re hoping for a future where multicultural young people can lead their own change in their lives, in things that matter to them.”

Can you share a highlight or rewarding moment with the YLU so far?

When the original YLU members suggested I go for Chair, that was a significant moment. I think sometimes we can be a little self-deprecating, thinking we’re out of our depth, so to be placed into that role was great for my personal development.

We are currently in the process of officially launching the YLU under its new guise, Culture Spring, and when we agreed on the name, that was a highlight. The name and the vision have taken us over a year. After we onboarded new members to the committee recently, the name came quickly after, and I remember feeling a little emotional after voting for the name.

It wasn’t a unanimous decision and I don’t think it is still, but the fact that it took us so long shows everyone’s passion, and that we don’t want to do something just for the sake of it. We want this to be perfect and we want this to be long lasting.

Where do you hope to see the YLU in 10 years’ time?

From the beginning, we were all thinking big and we want to make the most of the opportunity.

I want the YLU to be its own governing body. I want it to be a common name within the sector. I want it to be seen as something incredible, something that stakeholders can turn to and trust that we can help them. I want young people to see it as something that they can rely on, something that they can learn from, and gain the skills to empower them.

Congratulations on being awarded the Darebin Young Citizen of the Year. What’s your connection with your local community?

Local council gave me the opportunity to speak my voice when I was at a young age. Having a connection with a body that has so much impact on your life, whether you know it or not, is so important. I’m a jury member of Darebin Council’s Young Citizens Jury and I see my council as one that is quite developed. One that acknowledges and allows young people to have a say and I feel lucky to be involved.

What do you think are some of the most important ways we can continue to support and empower young people from diverse backgrounds?

I’m so tired of these box-ticking situations when it comes to diversity and inclusion. People need to understand why they’re engaging with young, multicultural people. What are they actually doing and why do they want to?

I think what the YLU is doing is how we can help young people. We can give them the platform to lead the change they want to see. We can give them the space to use their voice and make decisions. I want to see more multicultural young people on Boards. I don’t want to see a very homogeneous Board or people in leadership. I want to see more multicultural young people in politics and decision-making arenas if they want to be.

*The Youth-Led Unit is a new business unit backed by CMY and is completely youth-led. The unit is officially launching later this year, however you can visit their page for updates and more information.