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Overview of the Public Forum

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The Parra Youth Matters Youth Jury launched its recommendations at a Public Forum held in Parramatta on 23 September 2003. The Public Forum was a great success, with an interactive component demonstrating no shortage of goodwill from the local community and other attendees. The Youth Jury's recommendations are wide-ranging and focus not only on improving media practices but also educating and empowering the community and young people in particular.

The Public Forum was attended by representatives from local community organisations, Parramatta City Council, State Government bodies and media organisations. The Youth Jurors attended with their families, friends and school teachers. Two informed presenters from the Youth Jury were also able to attend.

The Public Forum was opened by Dr Lyn Carson, Senior Lecturer in Applied Politics at the University of Sydney, who was the Youth Jury project manager. Following this the Hon Ross Cameron, Federal Member for Parramatta, spoke about the Youth Jury's role in the community. He presented the Youth Jurors with certificates for participating in Australia's first Youth Jury.

Three Youth Jurors spoke at the Public Forum about their expectations before the Youth Jury, their experiences during the process, and their hopes at the end. One of the Informed Presenters at the Youth Jury, Thao Nguyen, Youth Chair of the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW, also spoke highly of her involvement in the process.

All attendees received a preliminary copy of the Youth Jury Report, which contains the Youth Jury's recommendations and some background information about the process. The full Youth Jury Report is currently in production.

The Youth Jury recommendations were briefly outlined by Christopher Sargant, the project coordinator. He emphasised the diversity of recommendations made by the Youth Jury to address the problems it had identified. The Youth Jury examined both sides of the Charge: The media adversely influences people's views of different cultures, affecting perceptions of Australia as a nation. This Charge was formulated by the Jurors themselves over the course of three Introductory Sessions.

The second part of the Public Forum was highly interactive and obtained the views and feedback of attendees. A process called Speed Dialogue was used, in which the attendees divided into six groups. Each group engaged in a brief discussion with a pair of Jurors about one recommendation and the practical actions that could be taken to support it. After ten minutes, all six groups of attendees rotated to another pair of jurors to discuss a different recommendation. The process worked extremely smoothly and the amount of input obtained from attendees was astonishing. This input is currently being collated and will be posted on the Parra Youth Matters website.

The Speed Dialogue process demonstrated the Youth Jurors' capacity to think on their feet, explain their ideas and engage with other people's ideas. They met a number of representatives of other organisations who offered to assist with various actions to support the recommendations.

At the conclusion of the Public Forum, the future directions of the Parra Youth Matters project were discussed by James Cullen, the stakeholder, media and communications coordinator. He explained that the future would involve the project team, but would place greater emphasis on the Youth Jurors themselves. The project team would assist the Youth Jurors by playing a mentoring role, supporting them in taking actions to turn their recommendations into reality, drawing upon the ideas generated by the Public Forum. The project team would also ensure the Youth Jury Report is disseminated widely.

The Public Forum was formally closed by the Chair of the Youth Jury, Samantha Allen. Afterwards Jurors and attendees mingled while drinking tea and eating biscuits. The event concluded with a great sense of optimism for the future and many smiles. The Youth Jurors will certainly be seen again!