Media Releases | 4th Oct, 2007

Young migrants to take leading role in protecting their new environment

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Young Victorians will assist migrant and refugee youth to implement strategies that reduce water and energy consumption in their local communities.

The Youth Eco-Challenge II – Diversity for Sustainability aims to bring about intercultural connection and friendships that result in positive environmental outcomes.

The project, starting today, is a partnership between Environment Victoria (EV), City of Casey and the Centre for Multicultural Youth Issues (CMYI). It builds on the strength of two pilot programs that were delivered in partnership with EV and CMYI in early 2007; Multicultural Leaders in Sustainability and the Youth Eco-Challenge I.

The 17 participants of the Youth Eco-Challenge I were invited by Premier John Brumby to attend a recent luncheon with former US Vice President Al Gore as a reward for their work in reducing their eco-footprint in the City of Casey.

Having implemented their energy and water saving ideas in their homes and schools with great success, the participants are now keen to work with some of Australia’s newest residents to spread the message across the cultural divide. They will take the lead in showerhead exchanges, school-based education workshops and tree planting activities.

“Young people have strong beliefs and creative ideas about how Victorian communities can live more sustainable lives and we’re very proud of their achievements so far,’’ Environment Victoria chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said.

CMYI youth participation coordinator Rob Ball said the program would give a voice to migrant and refugee communities who in the past may not have been heard.

“Finding ways to live more sustainable lives is a constant learning process for the whole community,’’ Mr Ball said. “The more people that can contribute to this learning, the better prepared we’ll be to meet our environmental challenges.’’

City of Casey Director Community Services Jennie Lee said exchanging knowledge and ideas between young people from different cultural backgrounds would enable them to develop a shared sense of values, ideas and beliefs. “That’s good for building strong, harmonious communities as well as being good for the environment. Through their training in environmental leadership and support to develop local sustainable living projects, these young people will act as role models for people of all ages to make small but valuable changes to the world we live in.’’