Sydney (Media release to Tribune International): The dangers of labelling and stereotypes were debated by more than 200 students from NSW schools and youth organisations at Multicultural NSW’s annual Youth Leaders’ Day, IDEATION 2015, on Wednesday 9 September.

An energetic day of workshops and performances at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney was guided by the theme I Choose to Be…

Participants came from a broad cross-section of Sydney and rural secondary schools, covering public, private, selective and religious education sectors.

Students from Murray and Wade High School also took part in the day by teleconferencing through Skype, and attendees posted their contributions to social media through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook through #IDEATIONNSW.

Ideas put forward will be analysed by Multicultural NSW staff and either incorporated into projects or passed on with recommendations to the Minister and the NSW Government.

“Every single person here today is Australian – we have to look beyond our religious, cultural, linguistic and ancestral backgrounds as we work to build a better future,” Multicultural NSW Chief Executive Officer Hakan Harman told the forum.

“The diversity of our population is one of our greatest strengths as a culturally diverse society. There should be no tolerance for racism in our society and you play a very important role in spreading the word and embracing it in your daily lives,” he said.

SBS reporter and producer Naomi Selvaratnam outlined her own experiences growing up in Australia with Sri Lankan parents. “While Sri Lankan is one of the labels I have, I’m also a proud Australian, a proud journalist, a daughter, a sister and a friend. None of those labels defines me individually, but each builds my story. I hope this gets you all thinking about how important it is to see people beyond just one label.”

Ms Tanya Davies MP, Member for Mulgoa and Parliamentary Secretary for Youth Affairs, told young people that they could make a difference. “I encourage you all to take action because the power is within you to make a difference – and you can. You are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also the leaders of today.”

Outcomes from the day will be fed directly into the work of Multicultural NSW under Harmony In Action, our strategic plan for 2014-17. Multicultural NSW’s new community engagement framework will ensure that all sections of the community have the chance to engage and contribute – particularly young people through the Multicultural Youth Network (MYN) (www.multicultural.nsw.gov.au/myn).

The Multicultural Youth Network is an initiative of Multicultural NSW, and is a collective of young leaders committed to building a bright future for multiculturalism in Australia.

Ideation, the annual youth event, has been held since 2006. Throughout the day, presenters from culturally, religiously, and linguistically diverse communities of New South Wales work with students on new approaches to address issues.

Thanks to our sponsors and partners for making this day happen:

  • Multicultural Youth Affairs Network
  • Advocate for Children and Young People
  • Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences – Powerhouse Museum
  • Settlement Services International
  • NSW Family and Community Services – NSW Volunteering
  • SBS
  • NSW Health Organ and Tissue Donation Services.