By Gabriella Payne
A popular community support group (CSG) for South Sudanese young people has been expanded into Cardinia by the Centre for Multicultural Youth, following its huge success in both Dandenong and Casey.
The CSG was officially launched at an event at Pakenham’s Living and Learning Centre on Saturday 27 March, and was attended by many community leaders and eager supporters of the program.
Kenyatta Dei Wal, the project coordinator for the CSG in Dandenong, Casey and Cardinia, said that he was thrilled to see the program expand and it was wonderful to be welcomed into the Cardinia Shire.
“The launch was fabulous and fantastic,” Mr Dei Wal said.
“When people heard that there was an event of such magnitude and also that the service itself – which is focusing on young South Sudanese people and their families – is coming to them, they were just so excited and they were happy to be a part of it,” he said.
Since its inception in 2018, the support group has helped many young people from the South Sudanese community find their feet and reach their potential, and hopes to do the same here in the Cardinia Shire.
“We have realised that – and also as per our data, that many people are moving out from Casey and Dandenong to Cardinia,” Mr Dei Wal said.
“So we want to bring the services to them, but also more importantly, we want to engage young people.”
Mr Dei Wal said that the CSG offered many different services to youth and their families in the area, including youth leadership programs, homework clubs, family support packages, sport and recreation activities and employment pathways to name a few.
As each individual has their own unique challenges, Mr Dei Wal said that the CSG’s “services vary as per the need of the person” and each program would be individually customised to best suit that particular individual.
“Our research has shown that the more we keep young people engaged, particularly at schools, the likelihood of them getting into trouble or involved in antisocial behaviour is much less – and therefore, that’s what we intend to do,” Mr Dei Wal said.
With a new space allocated for this CSG at the state-of-the-art youth centre currently being built in Pakenham, Mr Dei Wal said he was excited to welcome South Sudanese young people to the program and hoped to help as many young people and their families as possible.
“Everyone from the South Sudanese community is welcome, but if there are also people in the wider Cardinia community who want to volunteer and provide support to the South Sudanese community, please reach out to the CSG too,” he said.