Exchanging ideas and inspiring action at the 2023 AAAH Conference

The AAAH conference is an opportunity for young people, researchers, health care professionals, academics, youth advocates and policymakers to come together and learn from each other.

Our team was once again honoured to participate in the Adelaide event, and to co-facilitate a pre-conference workshop. We explored how interviews, focus groups, participatory design, and co-research can be used to engage young people, together with Dr Cristyn Davies and Dr Stephanie Partridge from the University of Sydney, and Wellbeing Health & Youth (WH&Y) Commissioners Dominique Rose, Lara Nguyen, Sofina Le, and Grace McGowan . The WH&Y Commission is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and hosted by Young & Resilient.

Louisa Welland, Young & Resilient research officer, presented our team’s work with the Centre for Multicultural Youths' Explore co-research program. Louisa drew on learnings from the program and shared how we can advance the conceptualisation of co-research with young people, to ensure their meaningful involvement in the shared generation of knowledge.

“The co-research journey is rarely straightforward. It involves moments of confusion and sometimes conflict. But these moments can be harnessed to be useful. Co-research is ultimately about journeying and learning with – and from  –  young people, and asking them how they would like contribute and be supported, to ensure their participation is meaningful in ways that matter to them.”

The unique insights and experiences from WH&Y Commissioners were once again highly valued.

"The WH&Y Commission are a highly trained and skilled group of young people that can be effective allies in implementing best practice youth engagement as well as representing a diverse and complex range of live experience,” says Maia Giordano, AAAH executive officer.

Other conference highlights include Imogen Kane's keynote challenging assumptions about youth concerns, emphasising individuality post a nationwide listening tour.

The challenges to young men’s mental health, particularly in rural Aboriginal areas was discussed by a panel made up of Wathnak Vy, Member of SA suicide prevention council and counsellor/psychotherapist; Aston Hawkins-Nicholls, 2023 UNICEF Australian Young Ambassador and member of the LGBTQIA+ Ministerial Council South Australia; Brett Jennings, Ngaanyatjarra Co-Director; and Silvano Giordano, Co-Director Willurarra Creative in remote WA. Aston advocated for "brave spaces".

Jacob Thomas, from Monash Intercultural Lab , also spotlighted how queer research is often marginalised urging researchers to think about how we can bring in the knowledge and expertise of queer young people and researchers into the centre to promote queer-led research.

As always, the AAAH Conference was an excellent networking opportunity, sparking ideas that lead to action to improve young people’s health and wellbeing.

Read about the award that Grace McGowan, one of our youth collaborators, received at the conference here.

Read about what Peter Lin, a WH&Y Commissioner had to say about last year’s conference here.