The African Youth Support Council (AYSC) brings art, dance, and cooking to African Australian youths in Brisbane and around. The first African Youth Center opened about a year ago. Its intervention program was operating in detention centers and has recently been expanded to schools.
"The number of our young people entering the criminal justice system is quite massive and that trends are actually rising, says Beny Bol, President of the Queensland African Communities Council, we wanted to do something and having a centre like this where young people can come and feel at home without feeling judged."
The organisation is seeking funding to establish two more centres. 23-year-old youth mentor Amok Dhuol says she understands the cultural conflicts these youngsters can feel. "You don't really fit in because you were born here, so you don't really know our culture like we do. But then you don't really fit in at school.", explains Amok.
Bol and his team say negative and unfair media coverage and stereotyping are to blame for pushing away the African-Australian youth from services and their community. "I feel like they can't really be their best at such a young age they are already faced with so much limitations just because of what society thinks is right and not right.", Agnes Morseray, a mentor which offers art classes.
Bol says he hopes youths will be less likely to lose their way and engage in anti-social behaviour if they feel like they belong to the community instead of falling in the wrong hands. "These are Australian kids. They are our children and we need to put ourselves in the shoes of the parents. How would you feel to be portrayed or described in the way our young people are being described.", insists the head of this program.
The organisation was granted a Queensland Multicultural Award price in 2013.