Community stories: 24 April 2019
Providing opportunities for youth on the Central Coast of NSW to meet life’s challenges is at the heart of the work of Regional Youth Support Services (RYSS). The Central Coast has 51,000 young people, and a higher than the average number of suicides compared to the national average. Sadly, this is consistent with increased advice and referrals to and from RYSS and other community organisations.
Sharon Aldrick, from RYSS, says that supporting LGBTQIA+ youth is particularly important. “The issues young LGBTQIA+ people face, not only in the wider community but in their inner circles and even within themselves, are not widely known or spoken about. “While there are mainstream services to support the LGBTQIA+ community, we knew that the gender diverse youth on the Central Coast would benefit immensely from having the ability to voice their concerns, ideas and what they are facing on a public platform. “We received a little over $9,000 through the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants program to create a resource network and ‘hub’ for young people.”
It was a youth-led project, kicking off with the employment of two LGBTQIA+ youth leaders who built a team of young people to implement it. This team produced a series of 15 podcasts focused on LGBTQIA+ youth-related topics, which were shared on a website, Facebook and Instagram page that they managed. They ran information stalls at various markets and produced promotional and marketing materials. There was a documentary produced for YouTube, and they are now creating a short film. Through social media, this project has reached more than 5,000 young people.
“This initiative enables these young people to have a platform to express their issues, inform the wider community, and to normalise sexuality and gender diversity. The community is now better informed about the LGBTQIA+ community, and young people feel supported, feel non-judged and can access support and services they need,” reported Sharon.