Students from 10 schools across Blacktown City came together with key community leaders to share their views, concerns and ideas for the future of the City at last week’s 2023 Blacktown City Youth Forum.
Supported by Blacktown City Council, 80 local students spoke directly to the Mayor and Councillors of their ideas and passions at a special Youth Council held in the Blacktown City Council Chambers.
“The Blacktown City Youth Forum provides a strong connection for local students engage directly with Council and other community leaders, raising issues that are important to them,” said Mayor, Tony Bleasdale OAM.
“More than a quarter of Blacktown City’s population is aged under 18 years. In the years ahead, they will be the leaders and change-makers of our City, so it is crucial their voices are heard on key subjects.
“I’m thrilled that the students brought with them great enthusiasm, brilliant ideas and an incredible passion to make a difference to their Blacktown City community.”
Students were given a chance to workshop ideas and possible solutions on a designated issue to present at the Student Council, with issues covering: racism and discrimination; the stigma of living in Blacktown; cost of living pressures; violence and bullying; perceptions of safety; substance abuse; youth homelessness; climate change and employment.
Reporting on concerns that the City’s young people face every day, students shared their thoughts and concerns around issues that include the tackling of racism and discrimination and the building of stronger connections between young people and organisations like the NSW Police to build safer communities.
Students talked about their needs for more counsellors in school environments and discussed the impact of domestic and community violence, youth homelessness and substance abuse.
“The students also described very clearly of the impact of the increased cost of living pushing them into the workforce earlier, to enable them to support their families,” Mayor Bleasdale said.
Blacktown City’s Youth Forum event also featured a Question and Answer session, with guest panellists discussing key issues affecting local youth.
The panellists were: Detective Chief Inspector Jason Pietruszki and Senior Constable Dave Edwards, both from the Blacktown Police Area Command; Dolie Ufi, a support worker for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and Bilvika Abburi, one of Council’s previous Youth Ambassadors.
Schools and organisations involved included: St John XXIII Catholic College, The Ponds High School, Mitchell High School, Patrician Brothers College Blacktown, Rooty Hill High School, Warakirri College, Plumpton High school, Tyndale Christian School and SydWest Multicultural Services.
Students also heard about Council’s apprentice and trainee programs first-hand from current employees at Council.