Exploring ideas of leadership as a young person in Gippsland 

When Anesu reflects on what being a leader means, she envisions someone who takes control and inspires the community, someone people can look up to. She doesn’t see herself as one, despite being a regional Youth Advisory Group (YAG) member for CMY, part of the Latrobe Youth Council and a volunteer at her local church. 

“To be honest, I still don’t know what my idea of a leader is and I’ve never viewed myself as one, but more as someone who has input or wants to see us grow.”

Born in South Africa to a Zimbabwean family and moved to Australia at the end of 2016, Anesu enjoys singing and playing the guitar and the piano. Music and dance have always been an important part of her family life. 

She came across CMY through her older brother, a former regional YAG member. When he started off, she was too young to participate but was very curious and fascinated by all the activities her brother was getting to do, and the way he was engaging with the community.  

“I remember when the YAG helped plan a colour run. I wanted to be a part of that! I wanted to do things for the community as well, have a voice and make a change.”

Anesu loves Gippsland and all the opportunities the region offers. The main difference with her own country is the sense of isolation. When she first moved to the area with her family, she experienced the culture shock of not always having people nearby and missing social interaction with people.  

“Being from a multicultural background, sometimes it’s really hard because you feel isolated from your own culture. As much as you love being around other people, you also want to be around your own people and get to grow in that sense.”

For Anesu, a way of breaking the isolation and getting the local government to improve things for young people in regional Gippsland, is organising sports days.  It is an opportunity for teenagers to come together and reconnect with the activities that they lost touch with, due to increasing school pressures. She finds it also a great way of promoting both physical and mental health.  

“Or even having days where different cultures help each other making native dishes. Learning something new and different to what they have known. Trying to get people out of their comfort zone.”

She identifies balancing social life and well-being as a challenge that young people face more and more, especially when school gets more stressful as the workload keeps on building up. 

There are two other main areas Anesu feels close to her heart. Throughout the pandemic, mental health has been such a big issue and despite the busyness of life, for her, it is important to understand that you have to put yourself first. Identity is another one.  

“As teenagers, growing up we’re trying to figure out where we fit in, knowing who we are, what sets us apart from everyone else and what makes us friends with the people that we’re friends with.”

She came across the Latrobe Youth Council thanks to Julia Rovery, CMY’s Gippsland Team Leader, who thought Anesu would be interested and a great fit for the role. She found the interview process to be a very different experience, especially in the way they interacted with her, asking about her goals for the community and her aspirations. She joined the Youth Council at the beginning of September and when asked about her role, Anesu smiles and looks very excited.  

“In my first meeting, it was very interesting seeing how the councillors work as well as seeing the involvement of youth councillors and how their ideas are taken on to make community more inclusive for everyone.”

As part of her role, she volunteered at the Seed and Feed festival where they promoted healthy eating and well-being. Currently, in partnership with Valley Collective, they’re planning a music festival in Gippsland focused on growing local bands, which Anesu is really excited about.   

Regarding her expectations in being part of the Youth Council, Anesu wants to learn how to be a leader, how to develop herself as an individual and gain a sense of confidence. So far, she’s really enjoying the role and is very keen to reapply next year.   

“It’s about having a voice because there are not many of us in the Council and being able to have a point of view in the community is very necessary and valuable.”

CMY’s Regional Presence Project supports young people in rural and regional areas to settle well and feel connected to their local community by strengthening participation in school, work, family and community.  

Our Gippsland team, based in Morwell, represents and advocates for the interests and needs of multicultural young people in Gippsland, as well as providing in-school support and secondary consultations.

Find out more or get in touch: https://www.cmy.net.au/gippsland