New horizons for youth leadership

5 June 2024

Connecting, learning and collaborating were the focus of a youth summit that brought together a diverse group of young people from Victoria’s Pasifika communities.

During a day of workshops, panel discussions and group activities, the New Horizons Leadership Summit built the capacity of young people while also broadening their understanding of parliament.

‘It’s important that parliament runs these events so we can have a better understanding of our culture, who we are and who we want to be,’ said Azaria, who helped to co-design the event.

‘There are so many stories to be told from across the Pacific. We benefit from these stories that we are learning today.’

A partnership between Parliament of Victoria and Culture Spring, the summit was part of recent efforts to connect parliament with Pasifika communities in Victoria and followed a Pasifika showcase held at Parliament House.

Panel discussion provided insights on leadership based on experiences in diverse communities.

Participants heard from Pasifika community leaders during a Q&A panel featuring Victorian Multicultural Commissioner Sylvia Coombe, community leader Micheline Erbes, parliament’s youth associate Jacob Sigabalavu and Le Mana Pasifika program manager Shannon Bell.

Panellists discussed their experiences in their respective roles and issues they have faced navigating leadership positions. They also had advice for young Pasifika people.

‘Whoever thought to bring change was never given a red carpet, believe in yourself and the legacy that you want to leave behind,' said Micheline Erbes, reflecting on advice she would give her younger self.

‘Don’t look for the validation, acceptance or approval from anyone, so long as you believe in yourself, that’s enough’.

According to various participants, the event was a step forward to strengthen their skills in leadership and learn how to get involved in their community.

Opportunities were provided to learn and collaborate through group activities.

‘A highlight for me today were the four speakers, because they’re older they can pass down their experiences and open up to us, which helps alleviate the pressure we might be feeling,’ summit participant Atonio said.

As part of skills development at the summit, youth advocate Krushnadevsinh (Kano) Ravalji held an interactive workshop on the power of public speaking and the importance of storytelling.

Lee Tarlamis provided an MP's perspective during a Q&A session.

To provide a better understanding of parliament and the ways in which young people can engage in democracy, Alison Gill from parliament’s community engagement team delivered a ‘Parliament 101’ and encouraged participants to explore the many and varied opportunities for civic engagement.

And for the final session of the day, Co-Chair of the newly formed Parliamentary Friends of the Pacific Islands, Lee Tarlamis MP answered a range of questions from participants. He noted the significance of parliament’s growing relationship with Pacific Island communities and young people.

A common theme in feedback on the summit was the benefit of shared learning.

Skills development was an important part of the summit.

‘Being surrounded by other young Pasifika kids, we are learning about each other and our own cultures,’ said summit participant Gracious.

‘We are able to see that we are not alone, we are in this together. It’s important for young Pasifika people to see what is out there for us, the opportunities, the programs, the events.’


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