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YMCA hosts Multicultural Youth Leadership Camp to help young refugees overcome barriers

YMCA hosts Multicultural Youth Leadership Camp to help young refugees overcome barriers
October 3, 2019

YMCA Camp Manyung in Victoria's Mount Eliza recently hosted a Multicultural Youth Leadership Camp which saw over 50 newly arrived refugees aged 14-26 years old participate in programs over three days at the camp.

The first of its kind, this camp which was organised by the Help-Himalysian Youth Foundation and multiple community organisations including YMCA Victoria, brought together refugees from Bhutanese, Nepalese, Pacific Island/Tongan, Karen (Burmese) backgrounds.

The camp sessions and activities were run and supported  by YMCA, Australian Football League (AFL), Football Victoria, Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY), Life Saving Victoria (LSV), AMES Australia, Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), Victorian Government, Australian Government, Bhutanese Community in Australia, Itiki Sporting Club Glenroy Inc and AKP from Karen community.

The camp allowed the new Australians to develop networks with other young people, connect with government services and community organisations and develop skills in leadership, advocacy and employment in safe and supportive environment.

YMCA Camp Manyung Manager Jim Boyle advised that the camp united communities, commenting “YMCA is a strong advocate for cultural inclusion and connection. Supporting a camp like this is a no brainer for us because it helps young people who need it most.”

Founder of the Help-Himalysian Youth Foundation and New and Emerging Communities Liasion Officer for Victoria Police Parsu Sharma-Luital said the camp helps some of most vulnerable young people, adding "most of the group have parents who are illiterate, the young people have been born in refugee camps, they’ve experienced strong hardship and had family break-downs, and they’ve been involved with the police.

“This camp breaks down barriers and creates new leaders.”

YMCA led camp activities focussed on capacity building, teamwork, collaboration, cross cultural understanding and sharing among service providers and young people from diverse cultures and language.

One of the highlights included sessions with Victoria Police to help reduce distrust between police and youth, to develop strong bonding through personal relationships with the young people. This was especially important for Bhutanese, Karen and Nepalese youth who have a strong distrust of police due to atrocities they have experienced back home.

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