Moruya’s Jamal Parsons never thought of himself as a leader. But the sixteen year-old, who doesn’t attend school, now has a newfound confidence in the road ahead after attending a youth leadership forum on the weekend.
Jamal was one of eight Aboriginal teenagers hand-picked by Council’s youth services team to go. Funded by Regional Development Australia, the forum is most commonly attended by students who are already school leaders.
Jamal and nine of his peers found themselves working alongside 10 SRC students from local high schools, learning how they could “be the change” and implement change in their own lives and the wider community.
Jamal said the forum helped him a lot and gave him more confidence to speak in public – something he had never before attempted.
“Public speaking was something that I really struggled with before and I went to that camp and they made us feel really comfortable and gave us more confidence to speak,” he said.
“I used to be really nervous to go to job interviews and now I think I could get out there and find a job. One thing I really want to do is to get a job in construction - they need more career expos so we can learn more about what opportunities are out there.”
Council’s Community Development Officer Jordan Nye said Jamal’s story was just one out of the group who attended.
“They all have leadership potential, they just needed the opportunity to become a leader,” he said.
“They got a chance to believe in themselves and to believe they can make a difference in their community.
“It was like we picked up different kids than who we dropped off – they were so pumped and excited and rattling off ideas.
“They now feel different about themselves – they have more confidence in themselves and their abilities.”
Jordan said it was also fantastic to see teenagers from very different backgrounds come together.
“Some of these kids went to the same school and had never spoken to each other,” he said.
“It was great to see them working alongside one another – it increased their understanding, reduced stigma and also helped the Aboriginal kids realise they can be anything they want to be if they put their mind to it.”
The Far South Coast Youth Leadership Forum is funded by Far South Coast Regional Development Australia and run by Sonder Youth. For more information about the forum visit www.scylf.com.au
Above: Bradley Carriage, Christopher Innocenti, Brody Dunne, Council’s Youth Development Officer Mark Ettridge, Jamal Parsons, Kiaan Nye-Smith, Kyran Nye, Council’s Community Development Officer Jordan Nye, Steven Tidbold and Prue Nye-Smith at the Far South Coast Youth Leadership Forum in Tuross Head on the weekend.