What an inspiring group of young Bendigo people.

Eighteen young Bendigo refugees have graduated after dedicating themselves to a 16-week iEmpower program designed to build their knowledge, resilience and skills to become future leaders in their community.

The Youth Development and Empowerment Program was delivered by iEmpower in partnership with Bendigo Community Health Services, Department of Justice and Community Safety, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Bendigo TAFE, Victoria Police and headspace Bendigo.

The 18 program members and their mentors were recognised during a special graduation ceremony before family, friends and guests at Bendigo Community Health Services last night.

The group received their certificates, delivered speeches about the importance of the program in their lives and even sang a couple of songs to entertain the crowd during the ceremony.

One 21-year-old participant said the program had taught them how to contribute and become a productive member of the Bendigo community.

“To me, it’s a lifesaving program and I will use to shape my future. I’d like to thank the Victorian Government for creating such a wonderful program. I also wish to thank iEmpower and Bendigo Community Health Services,” the participant said.

iEmpower CEO Abeselom Nega said involving the young people in co-design of workshops and information delivery were important elements of the program.

“This program is aimed at building the resilience of newly-arrived young people from refugee and humanitarian backgrounds by providing information about the justice system and tailored case management services,” Mr Nega said. “Refugee youth whose backgrounds are from Afghanistan, Karen and South Sudan took part in the program.”

Helping young people learn about the Victorian justice system, the role of Victoria Police in the community and Department of Health and Human Services services such as child protection and housing were other important program elements.

Practical visits to venues such as the Bendigo Magistrates' Court, headspace Bendigo and Bendigo Library helped the young people expand their knowledge.

Well done all! #WithRefugees

www.bchs.com.au I #BCHS#thereforyou