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2014 Pacific Youth Research Symposium held in Logan

Published: 9 December 2014

2014 Pacific Youth Research Symposium held in Logan

More than 150 delegates from across academic, education, health, government and church sectors came together at the 2014 Pacific Youth Research Symposium at Woodridge State High School on 27 November to learn new strategies to better engage with Pasifika youth.

The event was presented by the Woodridge State High School Youth and Multicultural Hub, in partnership with Australian National University and Griffith University, and was led by five leading international Pacifika experts. Key speakers from New Zealand included Rhodes Scholar and Associate Professor Damon Ieremia Salesa.

The symposium was particularly significant for Logan City, given Samoan is the most frequently spoken non-English language in our community. Pasifika students comprise more than half of the student population at some schools in South East Queensland. This figure includes a significant number of people of Pacific Island heritage who are New Zealand citizens.

Woodridge State High School has more than 1200 students from 70 nationalities, of which 30 per cent are of Pacific Island descent.

Woodridge State High School Community Hub Project Manager, Josephine Aufai, said the symposium was invaluable for educators, policy advisors, community Elders and practitioners as it helped them further understand issues facing Pasifika young people in Logan.

"Students from Pacific Island communities attending primary and secondary schools in South East Queensland are a high-risk group for under-achievement, and are under-represented in higher education," Ms Aufai said.

"Of particular concern are the increasing numbers of Pasifika young people disengaging from education early, and the lack of support or expertise available to support them before that happens.

"On many levels, this symposium was not only positive and aspirational, but more importantly inspirational for our Pasifika communities locally and nationally."

As a result, 13 recommendations were proposed from symposium workshops, including that the Federal and State Government engage with the Woodridge State High School Community Hub as a central point of the community.

The symposium report was tabled at the Logan: City of Choice Leadership Team meeting on 5 December 2014. Another Pasifika research symposium is planned for next year.

The Woodridge State High School Community Hub is a Federal Government initiative of the Logan: City of Choice Two-Year Action Plan 2013-2015, in partnership with BoysTown and the Centre for Multicultural Youth.