Sharnya Joins the Australian Youth Advisory Group

March 24, 2023

Young mum and Brave participant, Sharnya has been selected as a member of the Australian Government’s Youth Advisory Group.

Before her first meeting in Canberra, Sharnya sat down with her mentor Louise to chat about the group and why she wanted to apply.

What made you want to apply for AYAG?

The lived experiences I have and knowing what it’s like to feel unsafe and alone. I have experienced homelessness and the out-of-home care system and I know the impact this has on mental health and wellbeing. Young people shouldn’t have to feel like that. 

What are you looking forward to about heading to Canberra?

Hopefully making a difference. Being a voice for young people who don’t have the chance to speak for themselves.

Is there anything that is making you feel nervous?

The whole thing. It is way out of my comfort zone. I’ve never done anything like this before. 

And also flying.

I like what you said about ‘lived experience.’ That feels important. Tell me a bit more about that?

I think that my experiences in out of home care, living homeless, needing access to emergency relief services and being a young parent has shown me how hard it is when there isn’t any support.

I am at a point in my life now where I have support around me. I am a work in progress.

I think that I can share my experiences with the different supports that have worked, such as being mentored by Brave Foundation, and those that have not in a way that will help to inform decision makers.

My experiences don’t have to be for nothing. They can help to make the changes I wish people had of made for me.

What sorts of things do you think need to change?

As a young mum, there have been times where I have felt that it is challenging for me to keep my own children safe. Some of these times have been due to lack of service and support availability, which has left us as a little family vulnerable. I found it nearly impossible to get professionals to engage with me when seeking medical intervention for my daughter when I identified that she was facing developmental delays and challenges. At times I have needed to seek support for food relief and have had to navigate the complicated process of accessing this.

It is hard as a young person, whether you are a parent or not, to ask for help. I feel that there needs to be safer way for us to be able to show our vulnerabilities and be helped in a way that does not make us feel like we are incompetent or a problem. I feel that there is a lack of compassion and empathy towards young people who are in need of help.

What has helped you to feel safe and supported at this point in your life? What was the turning point for you?

Having good support systems has helped heaps. Becoming more mature. Starting Community Services at TAFE and having good routines around that. But mostly having a safe home has given me security and I don’t have to worry anymore about where we will be sleeping.

When we first met, would you have imagined that in five months’ time you would be flying to Canberra to share your story in a way that will help change the way the government supports young people?

No way. 

Do you remember the goals you set for yourself back then?

Have a safe home, get the kids back, start TAFE so I can become a youth worker, and improve my mental health.

I’d say you’re pretty well on track, legend. Time to set some new goals!

Thank you so, so much for believing in me and helping me do this.

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