Interview with Melissa

 12 December 2017

Melissa news pic.jpg


How are you involved with Monash Youth Services (MYS)?

I have been involved in various groups with MYS since 2014.

I am currently the Chair of the Monash Young Persons Reference Group (MYPRG), sitting my second term leading the group. I joined MYPRG in 2014 due to my interest in policy creation and community service. As part of MYPRG I have been involved in numerous activities and events such as: the Big Sleep Out for homelessness; National Youth Week Festival; Humans of Monash Project; Random Acts of Kindness Project; Leadership Day Presentation at Glendal Primary School; Graffiti Art Project Consultations; Conversations with YOUth Project; providing written and verbal feedback to various Council plans and initiatives; being a youth representative at State MP Mr Steve Dimopolous’ ‘Oakleigh in 10’ launch; Sir John Monash Leadership Awards judging panel for the Youth awards.

I am also a member of the Monash Youth Ambassadors. I joined in its inaugural year, contributing to the planning and creation of the 2016-2017 Youth Action Plan.

I have also been a member of the Film Festival Committee from 2014-2016.

How has being involved in the program helped you to achieve your goals?

My involvement in MYPRG has been a fantastic platform for me to achieve various personal goals and develop many skills.

It has allowed me to demonstrate and develop my leadership skills working with a team of passionate young people. It has helped me to connect with other young people in my local area of various ages and backgrounds – which is an invaluable experience for any young person to have, as it increases your understanding of different perspectives.

In particular, MYPRG has allowed me to develop my understanding of local Government. Through my studies I have developed an interest in developing human rights based policy that focus on inclusion and respect for cultural differences. MYPRG has given me a window to better understand firsthand the process in creating policies and providing advice to Councillors and the way in which youth issues fit into the overall work of local Councils.

How do you think your involvement in the program or MYS has strengthened the community?

Over the years of being involved in MYPRG it has been inspiring to see the progress and incremental change that has occurred within the committee. The committee has developed a strong vision of what it wants to achieve each year and it has been great to see individual members develop confidence, take on leadership roles and for the committee to deliver its successful projects. I believe this personal development for young people in invaluable, as it is helping foster youth advocates in our local community. MYPRG’s ever-growing voice and dedication is a vital component of the City of Monash, as it reinforces to our local Councillors that young people are interested in learning more about the decisions Council makes. It is this process of education, awareness and communication that enables MYPRG to strengthen the community. As the committee members’ education and understanding about Council is increased, they are able to spread this knowledge to other young people.

Tell us about a time you have taken on a new opportunity or challenge?

During my involvement in the Film Festival committee, I was the MC of the event for three consecutive years. This was a new opportunity I had not done before, hosting a public event and representing the City of Monash at this event. This opportunity enabled me to use and develop my skills in public speaking, organisation and team management. To date, my involvement in the Film Festival committee and hosting the Awards Nights has been my most enjoyable and fun memory from MYS.   

Would you rather eat pizza or ice cream every day for the rest of your life?

Ice cream – there is just so much more variety you can get out of cream that you can’t with pizza (especially as a vegetarian – margherita and veggie piazza forever? No thanks!). Think of the salted caramel gelatos, raspberry and lemon sorbets, choc-chip and mint ice cream you could indulge in daily!

What is your favourite piece of music, movie or television show at the moment?

I am rediscovering the beautiful and powerful music of Dan Sultan, an amazing Indigenous Australian artist. His latest album Killer was released this year and is an awesome fusion of gospel, blues and rock. The song from that album that I particularly like is called Magnetic.

Do you have any advice for other young people thinking about getting involved in their community?

My advice for young people is to stay curious about and engaged in the world in which they live. For those out there who have a passion to change the world, the raft of global issues we are facing can be a dissuading factor and can pose many more challenges than solutions. However, that is where your local community can come into play. Often the most inspiring change makers and developments occur from grassroots projects and volunteers in their local community. Being involved in your local community gives you a great network of support to be able to think about what issues you want to pursue, see tangible positive impacts of your actions, whilst experiencing the power that collaboration and passion of young people can achieve.