Youths share their voice at community forum

Brendan Rees

Young people have come together at the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus for a youth forum aimed at fostering dialogue about their experiences, aspirations, and challenges.

About 60 participants attended the “Youth Voices” event on June 6, including Carlton residents, students, traders, workers, and members of the Carlton Community Network.

The gathering was organised by the Carlton Collaboration Partnership consisting of the University of Melbourne, City of Melbourne, and Carlton Community Network.

Among those to share their story was 15-year-old Farha, who loves to play soccer in the community and has an online sneaker business.

He asked about steps to support young people in sports and small business endeavours.

“What truly concerns me is the lack of opportunities for youth like myself to have a voice. It feels as though our opinions are disregarded, and avenues for meaningful participation are scarce,” he said.

“Community centres and recreational facilities, once buzzing with activity, now sit underutilised and inaccessible, leaving us with a sense of disconnection and isolation.”



Another speaker, Arsema, raised concerns about the potential demolition of commission estates in Carlton and the impact on community connections, especially for non-English speaking residents.

“The residents would all have to move out; whether it be all at once or scattered across the next year or so,” she said.

“After decades of residents developing a strong sense of community with their neighbours, and those around them; what is your strategy to allow tenants to maintain this connection, particularly those who aren’t fluent in English and lean on their neighbours for support in various aspects?”

Other key topics included accessibility and support for youth sports and small businesses, strategies to maintain community connections amid redevelopment, and affordable education for refugees and humanitarian visa holders.

There were also questions asked about free and accessible programs and events for the community, anti-racism initiatives and support of Harmony Day, and employment support services.

Many attendees, particularly young people, felt welcomed at the University of Melbourne, with some pursuing educational opportunities after the event.

The City of Melbourne’s education and innovation portfolio lead Cr Davydd Griffiths was also present. He said the event “was a fantastic opportunity for young people to have their voices heard about the things that matter most to them”.


It was inspiring to hear how much they cared about their community and the positive ideas they have to address some of the pressing issues in our city.


Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre executive officer Tony Milne, who was a panellist, said he was “deeply inspired by the passion and resilience of the young people in our community”.

“It was incredibly heartening to see the enthusiasm and dedication of our youth as they engaged with community leaders and stakeholders to discuss how we can better support their growth and success,” he said.

The University of Melbourne’s director of engagement and partnerships Padmini Sebastian said Youth Voices created a space for young people to engage with local issues and discuss their aspirations and challenges.

“The engagement by young participants was compelling and important, and a powerful call to action for us to work collaboratively to make change and improvements locally.” •


Caption: Youths from the local community speak at the event. Photos: Carmen Zammit.

Like us on Facebook