“You can do it” is the message behind the Regional Youth Leadership and Participation Project.
‘For a lot of refugees, they want to settle down and survive. They’re not yet thinking of their dream jobs and achieving their goals,’ Mr Atukorala said. ‘(But) we want to tell them that if they want to achieve their goals, they can do it. There are no barriers.’
Mr Atukorala said the Shepparton-based project aimed to increase young people’s confidence and ability to participate in their community.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship funds the program and Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE, Word and Mouth, Fairley Leadership Program, Goulburn Murray Local Learning and Employment Network, Greater Shepparton City Council and Berry Street support it. Throughout the intense short course, participants will pay visits to organisations such as the council, police, courts, businesses and educational institutions.
It is hoped these visits will help the participants adjust to different cultures after the alienating experience of settling down in a new country. The group will also hear from various guest speakers who arrived in Shepparton as refugees and succeeded in achieving their goals.
Mr Atukorala said he hoped these speakers would act as inspiring role models for the program participants.
Johnny Madafferi, 21, said he was excited to be part of the project. The TAFE Diploma of Community Services student said he was originally from Samoa. ‘I stumbled across it and found it really interesting. I hope the program will help me get to know more about my field,’ Mr Madafferi said. ‘I moved up to Shepparton from Melbourne two-and-a-half-years ago and I really like it here.’
Mr Atukorala encouraged people passionate about making a real difference to their community, but who needed help and resources to get there, to join the project.
‘We have now achieved the target number, but the more the merrier,’ he said. ‘These young people are part of our community and we want to support them.’
For a lot of refugees, they want to settle down and survive. They’re not yet thinking of their dream jobs and achieving their goals. (But) we want to tell them that if they want to achieve their goals, they can do it. There are no barriers. — Sam Atukorala, Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District.
Article and image courtesy Shepparton News