Concerns and hopes of west's young revealed

YOUNG people from across the western Sydney region have looked into their hearts and minds to compile a report that aims to improve the western suburbs and the lives of those within them.

The first DIY Reality Report, officially released at the Parramatta Heritage Centre by Youth Action on Tuesday, followed months of consultations with young people during 2013 that culminated in the What's Up West? youth conference at Penrith.

DIY reality: Youth Action Western Sydney members Melody Gardiner, Susan Chen, Alex Long, Ananada Vasudevan and Lawrence Muskitta at the report's launch. Picture: Gene Ramirez

DIY reality: Youth Action Western Sydney members Melody Gardiner, Susan Chen, Alex Long, Ananada Vasudevan and Lawrence Muskitta at the report's launch. Picture: Gene Ramirez

YOUNG people from across the western Sydney region have looked into their hearts and minds to compile a report that aims to improve the western suburbs and the lives of those within them.

The first DIY Reality Report, officially released at the Parramatta Heritage Centre by Youth Action on Tuesday, followed months of consultations with young people during 2013 that culminated in the What's Up West? youth conference at Penrith.

"I really hope the report changes the stigma and the negative stereotypes about western Sydney," she said. "It shows a lot of western Sydney youth are actually really passionate about their community and are looking to change things." - Carlingford's Ning Zhang, 17, a year 12 student from James Ruse Agricultural High School.

Youth Action's western Sydney project co-ordinator, Alex Long, said the report's 21 recommendations offered a valuable insight into not only what young people thought about different concerns, but also potential solutions.

"What individuals can do, what communities can do and what government can do," Ms Long said.

The recommendations range from the construction of an integrated western Sydney bike track; a commitment from the state government and its agencies to procure goods and services only from ethical sources without slave or child labour in their supply chains; and for governments to provide more support for young asylum seekers in detention.

The report will now be used to advocate for change, with government ministers to be lobbied to support the ideas of their future electors, and their visions for the future.

"For example, we'll be writing to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli specifically around policy to combat homophobia and transphobia in schools," Ms Long said.

The report was authored by Blacktown's Lawrence Moskitta, one of the young people involved in monthly group meetings at Parramatta.

One participant, Toongabbie's Vinit Desai, aged 17, said the report represented diverse youth from across the west.

"All the views are represented — we don't always agree with each other," he said.

Carlingford's Ning Zhang, 17, said more than 100 young people attended the "inspiring" Penrith conference last year, which armed them with methods to "get their ideas out there".

"I really hope the report changes the stigma and the negative stereotypes about western Sydney," she said. "It shows a lot of western Sydney youth are actually really passionate about their community and are looking to change things."

Some of the recommendations:

■ For western Sydney’s councils to coordinate a plan to build an integrated bike track network to help combat climate change.

■ For the Education Department to develop explicit policies to combat homophobia and transphobia in schools and provide support for students.

■ The state government incorporate a more inclusive concept of Australian culture in national events like ANZAC Day.

■ The Education Department clarify the roles teacher and school counsellors play in mental healthcare.

■ The Health Department ensures all NSW schools develop and implement mental health policies.

■ The state government encourage young indigenous leadership in western Sydney.

■ For governments to provide more support for young asylum seekers in detention, specifically health, mental health and education.

Read the full list of recommendations at youthaction.org.au/latest/wuwreport

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