Having your voice heard

Matthew is a Filipino-Australian man who has always wanted his voice to be heard. He is a member of CMY Ballarat’s Youth Advisory Group (YAG). He is also a key voice in the group’s soon-to-be-released podcast project: Thrive Cast.  

Matt, his mum and his older brother moved to Australia from the Philippines in 2015. They emigrated from the small city of Borongan, the capital of eastern Samar. Matt’s father was an overseas Filipino worker who worked in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for 5 years before deciding to accept an offer to work in Australia in 2012. Australia had the reputation as the “best place” for immigrant families. Matt found moving to Australia challenging and a “culture shock.” 

“My biggest challenge was trying to differentiate between the English language and my home language,” Matt says.  

“When I first moved to Australia, trying to talk in school, it was really hard for other people to understand me because of my accent.”  

Matt says him and his brother adjusted to the culture and language of Australia fairly quickly, but it was his parents who struggled the most in acclimatising.  

“English wasn’t my parents’ first language so they had to learn it through University and they also struggled with the accent,” says Matt. 

“They still have the Filipino accent while me and my brother kind of went straight towards the Australian accent.”  

A few years ago, Matt saw a poster at his school for a CMY pizza party and was excited to potentially find his own community. Coming into things with low expectations, Matt became inspired to volunteer for Speak Up after hearing a guest speaker talk at the event. After being recommended by a CMY staffer in Speak Up to join the YAG, he decided to put an application in and became a YAG member in 2023. 

For most of his early time in this country, Matt felt that he was voiceless. Whether it was at school or in daily life, it seemed like no one was paying attention to him or the experiences he had. The YAG provided a perfect opportunity for Matt to have his input taken onboard.  

“I don’t know if it’s just me because I don’t speak very often, but whenever I do speak my voice just doesn’t feel heard,” Matt says. 

“I was just trying to find more people out there to hear what I wanted to say.”  

Luckily for Matt, he got an opportunity to have his voice heard in the form of CMY Ballarat’s podcast project: Thrive Cast. Created as part of Ballarat’s program ‘Tiaal Mi Goa,’ which translates to “good mental health” in the Nuer language of South Sudan and Ethiopia, it’s a platform for young people to talk about their own mental health.  

Matt features on the podcast “pretty frequently” as a host. For him, this was his chance to be able to talk about something important to him and have it heard by others. 

“It’s like a way for my voice to be out there, you know, without having to be directly in front of people,” Matt says.  

“I’ve never really thought about doing a podcast like ever, so when I heard about it, I was like ‘oh yeah, this is really interesting,’ especially because after I looked at the topics, mental health, culture, gender equity, I was like, oh, okay, I really want to speak about this.” 

Matt doesn’t have any intention to start a new podcast project any time soon due to school commitments, but he says he might again if another opportunity comes his way. His prospects are currently set on studying architecture in Melbourne but first, he wants a gap year. 

“I was hoping to exchange to other countries, hopefully to like, explore and just learn different cultures and learn their way of architecture,” Matt says.  

“I love Ballarat architecture and I want to know what’s out there.”