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Introductory Session 1

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Summary Report of the Day

Fourteen young people from different cultural backgrounds and schools, came together for over three and a half hours on Sunday, the 8th June 2003 for the first of three Introductory Sessions of the Parra Youth Matters (PYM) Youth Jury project. This first session provided the Youth Jurors with the opportunity to meet the other young people they will be working with. Three girls could not make this first session due to sporting commitments or because they were not feeling well.

All the Jurors made contributions throughout the day that demonstrated their maturity and range of experiences. Everyone listened to each other and showed respect for different views, which was a great sign considering it is only early days of the whole Youth Jury Process. There was a lot of enthusiasm and goodwill in the group. This disproves the unjust belief that young people have nothing to say and do not care about their community. The Youth Jurors are not ‘super special’ or ‘different’ from all other young people; rather they are reflections of the true voices, beliefs and feelings of this generation.

At about 12:15 the fourteen Jurors for the day had arrived. Although promised food at 12, it did not arrive until 12:40, but everyone just used this opportunity to begin to get to know one another. After a few brief conversations had taken place between the Jurors they were officially welcomed by the PYM Team.

The Jurors were told how they were randomly selected to take part out of the seventy-two young people who applied. They were selected because they showed an interest in wanting to help their community and work with other young people to achieve this goal – not because of their grades or previous experience. In total there are 4 males and 13 females as Jurors. This ratio reflects the fact that about twice as many females as males applied to the Youth Jury. However this did not stop the group working together well.

After playing a quick ice-breaker activity the Jurors wrote down their initial thoughts and feelings about the Youth Jury process before it begins. Then the Jurors separated into three small groups and shared what experiences of cultural diversity they have had. These small group sessions really aimed at allowing the Jurors and the PYM Team to get to know one another better and build up trust. After some discussion had taken place, the Jurors individually wrote down one or two key issues that they think are an important part of cultural diversity in Parramatta.

The small groups then came back together and formed a large group again and shared with one another their issues. Each Juror talked about their issue and all Jurors added extra thoughts to issues raised so that everyone had the opportunity to comment. After each Juror spoke about their issue they placed it up on the wall, next to other similar issues. By the end of the discussion the Jurors had reached a number of groups of issues.

Following this large group discussion, the Jurors had a break and then divided into three small groups again. They talked more about the role of the Jurors, and then came up with some principles and guidelines they believe the Jurors should follow to help create an atmosphere of respect and support between everyone. The individual groups then came together and presented their ideas to the large group. A fair bit of overlap between the principles was seen. Unfortunately there was not enough time for the group to reach a final agreement, and this will be reached in the second introductory session.

The day had run about 15 minutes overtime by this stage, so the Jurors did not have time to write down what they liked and didn’t like about the day. They were given the form to fill out at home, and were told about the online discussion forum to be set up for the Jurors, and thanked for coming.

From what the PYM Team was told by some Jurors, the first Introductory Session was a worthwhile initiative and they left the day feeling like they had made a good start. Each young person had something so unique to express and expressed it with such passion and strength of character. This puts to silence those who claim that young people don’t know how to express their feelings in a mature, creative and intelligent manner. Well done to you all guys and girls!

Agenda

12:00 – 12:30 Lunch and welcome.
12:30 – 12:45 Icebreaker activity.
12:45 – 12:55 Pre-Questionnaire.
12:55 – 1:35 Discussing Issues (Small Groups).
1:35 – 2:05 Discussing Issues (Large Groups).
2:05 – 2:20 Break.
2:20 – 2:50 Roles and Expectations (Small Groups).
2:50 – 3:20 Roles and Expectations (Large Group).
3:20 – 3:30 Debrief.
3:30 – 3:50 Evaluation and Reflection and Food.