Armidale Regional Youth Forum tackles burning issues for region's young people

SCORES of students from across the district crowded into a conference room at Armidale City Bowling Club for the Armidale Regional Youth Forum

The annual forum aimed to give young people aged 14 to 24 years the opportunity to speak up and discuss the topics that concern them most.

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The Armidale Regional Youth Advisory Committee (ARYAC) coordinated the event, with assistance from Council, and committee selected the discussion topics of sexuality and sexual health; mental health; drugs and alcohol and cyberbullying/bullying.

Senior Constable Jarryd De Castro, who is also LGBTI Liaison Officer and Peer Support Officer, said the forum was a great opportunity for youth to understand current issues and be aware of how they can address what they see as well as assist others in need.

“If the younger community understand the different gender identities and sexual preferences, the more they are open and not as apprehensive about it,” Senior Constable De Castro said. 

“The gay and lesbian community is becoming more prominent, especially with marriage being passed last year. Knowledge is understand. So it’s about ensuring they have the support and knowledge, and then they can grow up being true to themselves.”

Students from high schools in Inverell, Walcha, Guyra and Armidale all attended the youth forum on Wednesday.

Several other professionals were on hand for forum discussions, and included conversation cafes for small groups to consider the key issues and find solutions.

NSW Upper House MP Mehreen Faruqi said youth orientated events were important for reaching out.

“It is so important, and especially thank you to Armidale Regional Council, because young people need to have a say in the future of Australia,” Ms Faruqi said. 

“It is their future and they need to have a say in it it.”