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The kids are alright…

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Bullseye Youth Committee members Rachelle Oats, Rhianna Henriques, Keira Applegate; Co-Chairpersons Josh Chapman and Paige Evans; Ben Fisher, Linden Holmes, Kayla Applegate and Krystal Sampson.

When you combine enthusiasm and impetus for change with the energy of teenagers, you are met with a powerful force. In the absence of real-world opportunities to make a difference, too often this drive to right the world’s wrongs will get funneled online — keyboard warriors yelling into the void of social media #activism.

The Bullseye Youth Committee (BYC) is a refreshing change to this landscape. A City of Swan initiative working with the Bullseye Youth Centre in Bullsbrook, the BYC are a cohesive group keen to advocate for themselves and their peers on topics ranging from road safety to being stronger allies for the LGBTQIA+ community.

The committee was formed in 2018 with ten members, three of whom remain members today: Rachelle Oats, Kayla Applegate and Keira Applegate. City of Swan Youth Development Officer Rebecca Naisbitt explains the origins of BYC: “The committee started off as more of a reference group for the youth centre — looking at making sure we were delivering a service that was relevant.

“It expanded beyond these walls and now it is about engaging and advocating for young people, and Bullsbrook in general.”
Kayla Applegate says, “Our original vision was for a group of young people leading the rest of the young people in the community — and organising events for them.” Rachelle Oats adds, “We wanted to be that voice for local people in the community, which had been lacking.”

Committee member Linden Holmes believes they play an important role in helping to bridge the generation gap. He said, “We shed light on what young people are like these days. I guess it can help adults to realise how different we are from what they were as kids.”

Intergenerational divide is nothing new, and although certain problems are common between the generations (identity, relationships, alcohol and drug use to name a few), there are many challenges — particularly those driven by technology evolving at breakneck speeds — that are unchartered territory for most adults.

“Bullying is huge now and with social media, it’s just harder,” said Kiera Applegate.

The team are resilient and have realistic expectations about what they can achieve in these complicated areas. They bring light and vigour to historical issues, ones those before them have perhaps grown weary of fighting.

“The thing with alcohol and other drugs is people usually go down those paths because they are isolated, or they have been in a rough situation. All these external factors — we can’t help that, but we can focus on prevention and education,” added Rachelle.
“Even though we don’t know how to go about solving it, we can raise more awareness, so if it does happen people either know what to do, or where to go to get the support that they need,” said Kierra.

Rebecca adds, “Their advocacy role is important — they may not have all the answers, but they are starting these conversations in the community, and networking with different people to bring them on that journey of advocacy.”

One avenue for networking for the BYC has been through the Bullsbrook Residents and Ratepayer’s Association (BRRA). BRRA invite committee members to deliver a youth report at their bi-monthly meetings. President Anne Janes said, “We value the input and efforts made by the Bullseye Youth Committee. These enthusiastic and committed youngsters will empower others to become actively involved in the community, and will continue to create a rewarding and sustainable environment for young people to grow and develop in.”

With her vast knowledge of community event management, Anne provided mentorship for BYC members as they worked with Kingsford to plan and deliver the successful community Christmas event last year.

“It gives you a lot of pride, thinking you can actually do something and contribute to the community in the way that we have,” said committee member Krystal Sampson. “You can look back and think, ‘Hey we did that!’ and it’s really cool.”

It has also given them a newfound appreciation of the work that goes on behind the scenes of these events. BYC Co-chairperson Paige Evans said, “I had no idea! The timing of everything, making sure it was all booked — all the little details had to fit into place.”

Event organising is just one of the many transferrable life skills the team have acquired through their efforts on the committee. Others include navigating bureaucracy, managing a budget and speaking in public. All members agree that their confidence has increased and co-chairperson Josh Chapman said, “I’ve definitely developed leadership skills, and working within a team. We are a pretty decent-sized group, so team skills are important.”

The gratitude for the safe space provided by Bullseye Youth Centre and the rock-solid support of their fellow committee members and City of Swan Youth Workers is clearly evident.

“It’s nice, just to have so many people behind you, telling you it’s alright,” said Paige. “That’s why I love the committee, and this youth space. I can’t stress that enough — how important this area is to me.”

The Bullseye Youth Committee were recognised in the City of Swan’s Australia Day Awards, winning the Auspire Active Citizen Group Award. To keep up to date with these active citizens, you can follow them on Instagram at @bullseyeyouth_committee. If you are interested in joining the committee, please email Rebecca at rebecca.naisbitt@swan.wa.gov.au or phone 0418 922 927.

You can also see BYC’s event planning expertise in action with the free, all ages Youth Week Event being held at the Kingsford Estate Amphitheatre on Friday 8 April 2022 5-9pm.