They Leads is a leadership conference designed to inspire, empower, and amplify the voices of LGBTIQA+ young people and allies aged 12-25. At the conference young people were free to express themselves and explore their own journey whilst hearing from inspiring local LGBTIQA+ leaders and building skills to increase connection with their peers and community.
YWCA Canberra’s youth engagement program is an inclusive service supporting young people (10 – 25 years) in the Tuggeranong region. YWCA have a strong history of delivering ‘She Leads’, a suite of leadership conferences and workshops in the ACT. LGBTQIA+ young people identified the need for a tailored leadership conference for gender and sexuality diverse young people in the ACT. They Leads was created to ensure LGBTQIA+ young people had a safe, relevant, and accessible event where they could connect and explore leadership.
- The event had a strong collaborative focus, including collaboration with:
- local LGBTIQA+ businesses to ensure that funding would flow back into the local LGBTIQA+ community and allow young people to see LGBTQIA+ people thriving and leading fulfilling, successful lives.
- young people who had input into the presenters and topics, as well as also identifying peers to perform and showcase their talent.
- organisations including inviting other staff to attend to listen to key-note speakers whilst also hosting information tables ensuring direct service promotion to attendees. Organisations who hosted tables included Directions, A Gender Agenda, Meridian, Woden Youth Services, M-Hub and SHAFPACT. Warehouse Circus and headspace Canberra ran workshops on the day.
- schools and organisations to support young people to attend the event. Numerous connections with schools have continued, identifying the depth of need to upskill staff within the community and education sectors to better support LGBTQIA+ young people. A new program (accredited professional development and school-based program) is in development with roll out in early 2023.