“A room of inspired youth, thanks to all the mentor group.”

These are the words from a poem delivered by Ei Zaw and her mentor Clara at the Equip Celebration in March.

Diversitat’s equip! program helps young people with career planning and an understanding of education, training and work options in Australia. The young people are between 16 – 24 years of age, and from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

It’s not easy to get an Equip certificate! The Celebration marked the end of an intense 10 –month program. The young people met their mentors in July 2017, after a two day introduction in the school holidays. They volunteered to participate, and by doing so made a big commitment to their own learning.

Equip asks that young people meet their mentors regularly, participate in additional employment-related sessions with staff and guest speakers, and attend group sessions on a monthly basis. Young people are also encouraged to participate in volunteer and work experience relevant to their interest areas. Many participants have spent their weekends and school holidays contributing to local events and community organisations. Others have gained specific work experience placements and part-time work.

Thanks to the young people and mentors who spoke at the Celebration to give us all specific insights into their experience. Thanks also to Michael from Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative for his words and didgeridoo performance.

What do young people think is the most useful and helpful part of Equip?

· “I have more confidence that I can find a job easier and prepare my resume by myself.”

· “Preparation for finding jobs and job interviews.”

· “Help to make my resume and connect to people.”

· “We meet people from different backgrounds in Equip”

· “Getting to talk to people with different experiences.”

· “I am getting more confidence to speak English.”

· “I am getting to know new friends and mentors.”

· “We get to volunteer at different places and get experience.”

· “Work and volunteer experiences means we can show our skills.”

There was a buzz in the room on the evening of Wednesday March 7th that highlighted something more. Yes, equip! is about supporting young people with their career research and planning. It is also about people from different backgrounds getting to know each other, sharing experiences and enjoying each other’s company.

Congratulations to all our Equip participants, and thanks to the many organisations who have helped an Equip participant along the way. A huge thankyou and gratitude to the amazing mentors who so generously offer their time, support and experiences.

Equip Celebration marks the formal completion of the program for these young people. They are moving forward with more awareness of their strengths and work interests, and knowing they have friends and community support.

Thank you to Phil Hines for his photographs