Out and About
The VFFF team loves getting out and about to see our granting partners in action. This quarter, we enjoyed opportunities to connect with organisations as they developed strategy and celebrated their young people.
Young Farmers Connect – Growing capacity to grow community
The tagline of “Together we Grow” beautifully sums up the work of Young Farmers Connect (YFC), a national non-profit organisation building a community of new, young and aspiring regenerative farmers. The YFC community offers peer support to its members, building a network to facilitate opportunities to grow personally and professionally – whether that be through collaboration, education, mentorship or industry support.
With regional chapters in multiple locations across Australia and plenty of interest in their work, YFC recognised the need to strengthen the organisation to fully realise its potential as a national network for regenerative agriculture. A $50,000 grant from VFFF is supporting YFC to do just that.
YFC has engaged the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE) to support them develop a plan to build the capacity of the organisation and key team members. This work kicked off with a rare opportunity for the YFC team from across Australia to spend time together at a weekend retreat. VFFF enjoyed spending a few hours with this group of committed young people as they wrapped up the weekend’s strategic planning workshop and agreed next steps.
ACRE will be continuing to work with YFC to document an implementation plan and capture the actions and commitments made. And with increasing interest in regenerative agriculture practices, there is no doubt there will be plenty of opportunities in the year ahead for YFC to grow not only its community, but also its impact on rural and regional Australia.
Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) – Youth voice front and centre in the National Youth Employment Body
In May, VFFF joined more than 70 participants at the BSL National Youth Employment Body (NYEB) Community of Practice and Policy (CoPP) in Brisbane, including partners from across the sectors of business and industry, skills and training, community organisations, the NYEB Youth Crew, and government. The NYEB works to drive systemic change in the youth employment landscape through a multi-sectoral, place-based approach. VFFF is pleased to co-fund this initiative with the Paul Ramsay Foundation over a four year partnership as part of the Decent Work focus area.
The CoPP event was an opportunity to reflect on evidence and share learnings around solutions that invest in the aspirations and capabilities of young people, and contribute toward thriving local communities. The energy in the room was fuelled by the voices of young people and the way they were supported and encouraged to contribute to the conversation. The NYEB Youth Crew participated in a panel discussion that made the room stop, listen, think, laugh and cry – as a Foundation that is Backing Young People, we found the following insights particularly interesting and worth sharing:
- Many young people would benefit from a "life after school" course that helped explain the adult world,
- Actively listening to young people and showing you care builds their confidence and capability,
- Young people have a lot to share from their lived experience,
- Peer work is a great model to allow young people with lived experience to walk alongside those who are finding their path,
- Hire young people if you are working with young people,
- Checking in with young people in your teams is really important - onboarding processes are critical,
- Ask a young person what they love doing and then see how that might be a career,
- You will get a huge return on young people if you invest in them, and
- If young people were an ASX Stock I’d say "Buy Now“ (our favourite).
Youth Insearch – Celebrating the next generation of Young Leaders
Youth Insearch is Australia’s leading peer-led youth intervention organisation, dedicated to supporting at-risk youth. In June 2023, VFFF Director Angus White and Program Manager Natalie Buckett attended the graduation ceremony of Youth Insearch's newest cohort of Young Leaders at Admiralty House.
The Young Leaders Program supports former Youth Insearch participants to deliver weekend workshops and weekly support groups to current participants. A 2021 evaluation by the University of Sydney found that these ‘youth-led components underpin Youth Insearch’s success.’ Specifically, the evaluation found that ‘as youth leaders shared their stories, they showed that change was achievable even for people who confront significant adversity.’
In 2022, VFFF learnt about Youth Insearch’s goal to expand their reach across Australia, supporting 13,800 young people over the next five years. The organisation’s focus on building the capacity of program graduates to lead the next generation of participants is well-aligned to VFFF’s Contributing to Society focus area. In September 2022, VFFF approved $682,000 over three years to Youth Insearch, to strengthen and scale the Young Leaders Program during this critical growth period.
Nine months on, this ceremony was a wonderful opportunity to hear directly from Young Leaders and celebrate their achievements. The graduation was hosted by Youth Insearch patrons His Excellency The Governor General, and Her Excellency Mrs Hurley. Speakers at the event emphasised the important role Young Leaders play in setting an example for the next generation of youth in their community.