4 December 2020
There’s a saying that goes, “the youth is the hope of our future”, and for people like Ciára, this saying could not hold any more truth. As the Youth Programs Leader at YWCA Canberra, Ciára’s role has been invaluable to the community and young people all across the ACT.
Through their role, Ciára has demonstrated just how rewarding it is to work with young people every day, collaborating with them to create better communities, more inclusive spaces, and supporting them to achieve their individual goals and dreams.
When they’re not hanging out at the Mura Lanyon Youth and Community Centre drop-in or YWCA Canberra Clubhouse, you can often find Ciára cooking up a storm at a local community BBQ, running a fun, inclusive event for young people around the city, or facilitating an interactive workshop at a local school.
Today we sat down with Ciára to discuss the importance of respectful relationships education, and the impact abuse can have on young people in non-domestic relationships.
Your team delivers a range of services to engage young people in education and training, some of which focus on respectful relationships. How have young people responded to this kind of training?
The young people we work with are intelligent, resilient, and courageous. They are the next generation of movers and shakers, change-makers and leaders. This very special generation of young people understand the power they have. The young people we work with have been very receptive to programs and conversations concerning healthy relationships – more young people bring knowledge and experience to these programs and help shape what we deliver. Young people are thriving, and this knowledge is very impactful for them.
For young people in relationships, there often lies the assumption that because they are not living together, they do not experience relationship abuse. What are your thoughts on this and what needs to change?
Unfortunately, anyone can experience relationship abuse, no matter their living arrangements. The YWCA Canberra Youth Programs have developed age–appropriate workshops to initiate the conversations around healthy and unhealthy traits within relationships. Ensuring young people can be their authentic selves is something I am very passionate about. Young people need to be comfortable to be their authentic selves both while in relationships and when they are not. I’d love to see rigid gender stereotypes abolished. The harm these stereotypes do in society is alarming.
What are some services young people can turn to if they are experiencing non-domestic abuse?
Talk to an adult you trust and feel comfortable with. This could be a youth worker or someone within your wellbeing team at school. Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) is a great service to connect with. The most import thing to do is reach out and get some support.
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