Parra Youth Matters   University of Sydney DIMIA You Me Us - Living in Harmony Council for Multicultural Australia
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Introductory Session 2

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22 June 2003 12–3.30 PM

Summary Report of the Day

The seventeen youth jurors selected to take part in the Parra Youth Matters Youth Jury met for the second time on June 22nd 2003 primarily to learn more about the process they are involved with, but also to come up with one single topic that they can carry through with them for the duration of the youth jury. Three girls came along for the first time (other commitments not permitting them to be at the first introductory session) and offered some fresh ideas. It was really nice to see how well they became part of the group - the dynamics were just great!

It was a pretty solid day in that the jurors were expected to go through a lot of deliberation that would ultimately be pivotal for their future discussion areas and the theme of their Recommendations. It was very noticeable just how passionate these young people are; their focus remained drilled on possibilities of creating a better community for all cultures to share despite how tiresome the debates were at times.

The jurors were eased into the day with lunch and a short welcome. It became apparent that Pizza Hut is a better choice than Pizza Haven - but irrespective, tummies were filled and greetings were said.

The key process elements of the youth jury were discussed in some detail. After the first introductory session there were some concerns that the process was not understood; some believed it to be a metaphor for a standard around-the-circle forum and others believing that there was a party being prosecuted, as in a mock trial. Indeed, the structure of a typical youth jury is very formulaic and difficult to understand if you have never encountered the concept before. So it was essential that the jurors gain more insight into exactly what is involved.

It was explained to them how each of the three days would be structured. The jurors were told about how their use of strategic questioning would ultimately allow them to extract as much information as possible from individual presenters. Their role as jurors was highlighted by giving them an example of a citizens jury run by Lewisham Council in the United Kingdom (the basis being Drugs and Community Safety). It was impressive that the Parra Youth Matters jurors were keen to know what sort of changes resulted; an obvious cry that they too would like to make improvements in their own community.

The largest component of the day was allotted to the selection of the topic for the Youth Jury. The jurors recapped on those issues that were raised in the first introductory session and raised a few more that they have been thinking about since the last session. Each idea was posted on the wall for all to see. The three girls who were involved for the first time made some new contributions as well.

The information received by businesses and individuals of the Parramatta community in survey form was shared with the jurors. There was a resurgence in new ideas that were then added to the already existent ‘wall of issues.’

The young people formed categories of these issues as some related to media, some had commonalities such as stereotyping and lifestyle, whereas others were specific to either school or family. From here, the young people were able to talk about which category would be the best topic for the Youth Jury, based on its degree of interest and its potential in creating realistic Recommendations. The team worked hard to produce a list of pros and cons for each category, coming across a few difficulties when it was realised how complex some of the issues were. They found it difficult to not relate the issues across categories, as it all seems so interdependent. Their thoughts were buzzing during these discussions and the outcome was of obvious interest to each of them.

The outcome of these discussions pointed to a specific category as soon as they began deliberating on it. The group successfully selected their topic area: Media as related to Cultural Diversity. Being such a broad topic, it will be very important for them to decide in the third introductory session which facet they would most like to mingle with.

The hard yards were done! All that was left was for the young people to let us know who they thought would be the better presenters for their topic area. They will be told during the last introductory session what the general pattern was and who some of the presenters are.

After a gruelling three and a half hours, the young people were congratulated. They had achieved so much during this session! It was really powerful to see that there was excitement about the web discussion site; that even after all these talks they could keep on going. These young people, as reflections of our society, suggest that people do want to improve our current situation. But most importantly, it shows that we are not afraid of voicing our opinions. In doing this, surely somebody will listen.

Agenda

12:00 – 12:30 Lunch
12:30 – 1:00 Welcome, Explanation of Youth Jury Process, Review Group Expectations
1:00 – 2:00 Selection of the Topic for the Youth Jury (Part 1)
2:00 – 2:15 Break
2:15 – 3:00 Selection of the Topic for the Youth Jury (Part 2)
3:00 – 3:20 Selection of Types of Presenters for the Youth Jury
3:20 – 3:30 Debrief and Thank you