Young people from across south west Victoria are needed to share their voice in an exciting community development opportunity.

Beyond the Bell is seeking interested people aged between 12-19, from all six local government areas, to join the Youth Conversations reference group and engage in a conversation on the future direction of education, employment, transport, and other factors impacting their lives.

The Youth Conversations project is a research initiative of Beyond the Bell, a community organisation seeking to alleviate the disadvantages disproportionately experienced by children and young people living in the south west Victoria.

During phase one, conducted throughout 2019-2020, Beyond the Bell heard from more than 100 young people about their experiences and expectations regarding education, training, and employment within their communities.

Rachel Wilks, Beyond the Bell’s Youth Conversations Project Officer, said it is now time for young people to act.

“We believe young people are the experts in the issues they are facing regarding education, training and employment in their community,” Ms Wilks said. “We need their expertise, thoughts and opinions to drive the next phase, so we can make real change developing pathways for young people.

“We want to make sure the representation is as wide as possible. It is important we make sure young people are driving this phase of the conversation and work ahead.

“The young people involved will form a reference group in 2022. They will receive training and be able to build their own advocacy, leadership and teamwork skills which they can take back to their own communities.”

Commencing in March, Beyond the Bell will run monthly meetings throughout the year to discuss and implement a project from one of the nine recommendations of The Youth Conversation Phase One Research Report.

“This project aims to collaborate with local young people and select strategies and plan actions to support education and learning engagement throughout the region,” Ms Wilks said.

Applications to join the Reference Group will close on February 14, 2022. Applications can be made on the Beyond the Bell website, or email rwilks@btb.org.au for more information.