Cowra youth take the lead on anti-bullying

Stassi Austin.
Stassi Austin.

A new tool to support young people to take the lead and make change on their own terms has been launched by Youth Action – the NSW peak body for young people and the services that support them.

The tool has already been taken up by Cowra Youth Council leaders who hope to stop bullying.

Youth Action Acting CEO, Chris Marcatili, said Take Action was a tool aimed at helping young people build the knowledge and capabilities they will need to take the lead as active citizens, and to get started without waiting for adult help.

“Young people in Australia are fresh thinkers, dedicated to change and generous problem solvers. Our young people will be handed an Australia that has many challenges – political, economic, social – but it is also young people who will come up with sustainable solutions to these challenges.

“Young people have told us that they’re looking for clear information about government, about how to be involved and take action on issues they’re passionate about. There are often simple barriers that stop them before they can even start. Take Action removes barriers, equipping young people to take the first steps and be supported to take action now.”

Based on insights and advice from young people, Take Action steps users through how the government works, what advocacy is, and different actions that can lead to change.

Young people are already using it, with projects on bullying and LGBTIQA+ inclusion in regional Australia being tackled in Cowra and Hay.

For Cowra locals Stassi Austin and Braydon Shaw who are members of the Cowra Youth Council, seeing close friends experience bullying and the impact it was having prompted them to take action.

In 2018, Stassi and Braydon, alongside the Cowra Youth Council, created #projectupstander.

The project aimed to stop bullying and equip theirs peers – the bystanders – with information to be an upstander – to listen, help and support.

“After the Central West Youth Forum which had seven schools with 40 representatives from each school, we were able to survey 100 young people and when asked if they had experienced bullying the majority said yes,” said Stassi.

“Many campaigns looked at the bully or the victim, but not many were looking at the bystander, the upstander.”

Cowra Shire deputy mayor Judi Smith, was a key supporter of #projectupstander, ensuring the campaign was able to address an audience of 300 prior to a Justice Crew concert in Cowra last year. 

“Take Action was really helpful for us in the planning stages of #projectupstander to better understand how to reach the community with our video and links that we used,” 18-year-old Stassi said.

Braydon, 16, agreed.

“We’re happy with where we’re at, but there is more to do.”

Take Action is for young people and educators or services working with young people and available for free via http://www.take-action.org.au/

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