Victorian Youth Week (formerly National Youth Week) is week-long celebration of young people (aged 12–25).

It gives you an opportunity to express your ideas and views, and act on issues that affect your lives. It also lets you have a lot of fun and celebrate the positive contributions young people make.

Stand Up 4 Youth is an event that was held on 22 April 2018 as part of the Victorian Youth Week celebrations. The initiative was driven by Africa Day Australia with the help of out team at POCreative and our friends from The Higher Good.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Youth Affairs Jenny Mikakos in the gearing up for the first ever Victorian Youth Week were:

“It’s disappointing the Turnbull Government only sees young people in a negative way and has cut funding to support them.”

“Young Victorians are overwhelmingly doing great and contributing positively to our society – we should be celebrating and supporting them.”

We celebrated the youth through a stand-up comedy show headlined by Joe White, an internationally recognised comedian. With a childhood in Sudan, Ethiopian by culture and raised in Australia since the age of 11, Joe White has plenty of relatable material for his stand up. And that’s not considering the rest of his life. One of six kids raised by a single mother in Perth, White references family frequently in his shows, while also riffing on various racial differences in modern Australia.

His MC Jason Wood and supporting acts Samuel Gebreselassie, Chido, Emo and Aliya Kanani are also from similar backgrounds, hailing from South Africa, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, you name it!

Aside from the show itself, we had the opportunity to speak to some of the youth guests in the audience and get their views on being viewed in a negative light, especially when you come from a multicultural background. Here are some of the insights we received:

Name: Chido “the EthNical Dilemma” Mwat
Age: 24

Q: Do you feel there are enough opportunities for creative youth in Victoria to build their future? If not, what are your recommendations?

I think there are opportunities to pursue creative endeavors. But the difficulty comes in being able to have a financially viable career. It would be difficult to just say allocate more funding. But I think that work could continue being done in ensuring that organisations/ projects that can pay artists, do so in a fair manner. I also think that more opportunities for artists to learn and appreciate ways marketing approaches, and entering the market would be valuable.

Q: What are some of the limitations you face as a young person?

Personally, I feel like that although the issue of diversity is currently being addressed, the opportunities as a black female comedian are still lacking. In particular in mainstream TV. Not just looking at the roles themselves, but the narratives in play surrounding black women.

Q: What are the fears you have with regards to your future?

I reckon they are probably universal, but the uncertainty. Will this actually work out, or am I chasing something that will never be.

Q: If you could kickstart your dream career now, who would you like to work with and why? (person or company)

Well dream careers a lot to explain. But long story short, being able to do comedy in all its forms, sketch, TV, film, voiceover cabaret (I don’t really sing and/or dance professionally but I love to! So why not). Also adding in a bit of health promo and education on the way. I guess being able to work with people localli and internationally, would be the dream. If I had to pick a company it would be Netflix. They have fantastic producers and creators (Michaela Cole, Michael Schur, I think soon to be Shonda Rhymes); their comedy shows are edgy, fresh, and multi-genre; you see a couple of recurring actors in their series; and they pitch to a global audience. Also I love Netflix binges.

Q: Do you feel that you have enough role models or mentors in your community to help achieve your goals?

Mentors I do think I have a great number of mentors in my community. They do amazing work and have made strides regarding the diversity. Perhaps the main issue would be that the minority of them are in the executive positions in mainstream media. So this does limit the types of opportunities.