Young Leaders at their sustainability stall 2023

Young Leaders Program

The Young Leaders program is for young people aged 16-25 years who live, work or study in the City of Greater Dandenong. The program provides a unique opportunity for participants to work with likeminded individuals, develop leadership skills, and make a positive impact by planning and delivering community projects. 
•    Be a voice for your peers and advocate on local youth issues
•    Develop leadership, communication, and teamwork skills
•    Increase your understanding of Local Government and interact with our Mayor and Councillors
•    Gain hands-on project management experience and contribute to the development of your community 

Please note applications for the 2024 Young Leaders program have now closed. 


2023 Young Leaders Projects

Racism and Discrimination and Climate Change were the two areas of priority focus for the 2023 Young Leaders projects. These priorities derived from consultation activities and feedback from young people in the Greater Dandenong community. The 2023 Young Leaders developed the following multipronged approach for each priority:

Racism and Discrimination

The 2023 Greater Dandenong Young Leaders hosted the Diversity Rise Youth Forum with over 60 young people aged 14-25 in attendance. A panel of young guest speakers including Yasmine Poole, Rhodes scholar, writer and youth advocate, Krushnadevsinh (Kano) Ravalji, diversity and multiculturalism advocate and Nyarath Gatkuoth, South Sudanese, Nuer spoken word poet explored meaningful conversations about racism, discrimination and cultural awareness and inspired positive transformation and solidarity.

In addition to the Diversity Rise Youth Forum, the 2023 Young Leaders developed a survey to further understand local young people’s (12 – 25 years) experiences of racism and discrimination and to learn what are the barriers to young people not reporting their experience. The survey also asked young people to consider trusted ways that would encourage them to seek support and to report. The survey was completed by over 300 young people. The findings were collated into a report to assist Council’s Youth and Family Services to advocate for improved reporting pathways and support services for young people in our community.

Read the summary report 2023 Understanding young people's experience of Racism and Discrimination in Greater Dandenong 786KB

Climate Change

The 2023 Young Leaders focused their efforts on addressing climate change locally by developing online educational resources and hosting a climate change stall for young people to learn about reducing textile waste and home recycling. Digital resources included factsheets linked below and social media content published on Greater Dandenong Youth Services Facebook and Instagram platforms. These resources were designed in consultation with Council’s Waste Department and aligned with Council's Waste Education Program.

Climate Change Factsheets

The Young Leaders also invited young people aged 12-25 to participate in the Young Leaders Climate Change Stall at Greater Dandenong’s Youth Fest 2023. Aiming to raise awareness and understanding amongst their peers about the harmful impact of fast fashion and textile waste and how to recycle correctly, the stall included a Clothes Swap and Recycling Activity. Factsheets created by the Young Leaders in consultation with the Council’s Waste Department were also displayed at the stall.

2022 Young Leaders Projects

Youth Summit: Conquering 2022 and Beyond

The 2022 Young Leaders were the first ever team to co-design activities for Council’s biennial Youth Summit. Participants chose the event theme, guest speaker and workshops – aiming to build young people’s understanding of resilience and support them to ‘bounce back’ from the challenges of COVID-19.

The Youth Summit brought together 120 Year 9 and 10 students from local secondary schools for a whole day of activities. A key role of the Young Leaders was planning and facilitating a series of Vox Pop workshops to capture feedback from young people – providing a platform for students to speak up about the issues that matter to them. A summary of consultation findings can be found here:

Youth Summit 2022 - Summary Report – 722.2KB

Proud 2 Be Me

Recognising the immense impacts of harassment and discrimination on LGBTIQA+ young people’s health and wellbeing, the 2022 Young Leaders developed ‘Proud 2 Be Me’, a strengths-based awareness campaign that aims to build understanding, allyship and inclusion.

Proud 2 Be Me platforms the voices of LGBTIQA+ people, highlighting their many strengths and unique qualities – providing a critical reminder that there is so much more to a person than their sexuality and gender identity. To date, the campaign has reached more than 6,000 community members.

2021 Young Leaders Projects

Each year, the Young Leaders are supported to research, plan, deliver and evaluate community projects. The following youth-led projects were undertaken in 2021.

Beyond the Surface

Through extensive research, the Young Leaders discovered that concerns relating to body image are prevalent amongst young people in our community, and identified that there was a lack of culturally relevant resources to raise awareness of this issue. Wanting to address this gap, the Young Leaders developed ‘Beyond the Surface’, a strengths-based awareness campaign that aims to combat negative body image and promote self-acceptance among young people.

To date, their social media campaign has reached more than 10,000 people.

Body Esteem Workshop

The 2021 Young Leaders also developed a body esteem workshop. Utilising evidence-based, interactive activities adapted from the Butterfly Foundation, this 30-minute workshop seeks to boost young people’s self-esteem by building their understanding of ‘body image’ and imparting key strategies to be ‘body kind’ to oneself and others.

The workshop is available for delivery in secondary schools and community settings for groups of up to 25 young people. For booking enquiries, please phone 9793 2155.

School Career Guidance Benchmarking Project

Recognising that young people in Greater Dandenong have lower education completion rates and post-school qualifications, and experience one of the highest youth disengagement rates in Victoria, the Young Leaders saw a clear need to strengthen learning and career pathways for young people in our community.

Acknowledging the valuable role that careers guidance staff play in supporting young people’s engagement in work and study, the 2021 Young Leaders developed a benchmarking project to capture a snapshot of the services and supports that secondary schools offer; and to identify any barriers that young people face, where further attention may be required.

The Young Leaders surveyed sixty-six students, and staff from seven local secondary schools. A summary of their findings can be found here:

School Career Guidance Benchmarking Project - Summary Report - 885.6KB

2020 Young Leaders Projects

Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives

The Young Leaders designed and facilitated a wellbeing workshop for newly arrived young people, teaching practical strategies to help individuals adapt to the negative impacts of COVID-19 and promote positive health and wellbeing. 90 students from Noble Park English Language School participated in the workshop, where they had the chance to learn about mental health, connect with local support services, and practice a range of fun self-care techniques.

Youth Leadership Forum

Recognising a need to amplify the voices of young people, the Young Leaders developed a Youth Leadership Forum to create a platform for young people to come together and discuss important youth issues. 50 student leaders from 8 secondary schools participated in the event, exploring solutions for a range of problems relating to mental health, youth employment, and equity and discrimination. Young people's feedback was generated into a set of recommendations, which has been shared with Council and participating schools, so that decision-makers can understand and better support the needs of young people in Greater Dandenong.

Youth Leadership Forum - Summary of key recommendations - 397KB

2019 Young Leaders Projects

Community Safety Project

The Young Leaders’ community safety project, Youth Exceeding Expectations, aimed to challenge community perceptions of young people as the perpetrators of antisocial or criminal behaviour in Central Dandenong. The group delivered a ‘pop up event’ at Dandenong Station, to positively activate the space and engage with commuters.

Mental Health Project

The Young Leaders identified the impact of technology and social media as an emerging challenge influencing young people’s mental health. Their approach to address this challenge included:

  1. Delivering a Safe Socials Workshop for young people 12-16 years, to help mitigate the risks and pitfalls experienced when engaging online. 
  2. Developed Beyond the Screen – a tip sheet on how to manage the use of technology.
    Beyond The Screen Tip Sheet - 4.8MB
  3. Presented to youth professionals at the Greater Dandenong Youth Network during Mental Health Week.

Health and Wellbeing Project

The Young Leaders produced a life skills resource to support newly arrived and migrant young people who have a caring role. The Young Leaders recognised that these young people can often take on additional responsibility in supporting their family as they settle in Australia. The resource includes information relating to healthcare, mental health, employment, health eating and financial management.  

Young Adult Starter Kit - Young Leaders 2019 - 2.5MB

Youth and Family Services office

39 Clow Street, Dandenong
Victoria State Government