Youth helping to shape Sunbury

Working party co-designer and 2023 presenter Rhiannon Fettes (Damjan Janevski). 344859_01

Zoe Moffatt

Young people in Sunbury are helping to shape the future of the community through highlighting issues that matter to them in upcoming presentations.

The project, Kid x Plus, is co-ordinated by Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health and the Sunbury Aboriginal Corporation, and is open for young people aged nine to 25 years.

Working party co-designer and presenter Rhiannon Fettes is a Sunbury resident, and recent bachelor of biotechnology and biomedical science graduate.

Rhiannon said she would like to highlight the struggles she experienced in her journey of being diagnosed with autism while being a high achiever.

“Currently I’m still working on my presentation, I’m hoping to highlight some of the struggles I had when growing up,” Rhiannon said.

“I would like to highlight how young people can struggle and be overlooked … due to their apparent success.”

Rhiannon said she was a high achiever growing up and her academic success led to a delayed diagnosis, which was frustrating.

“I was diagnosed with autism at 22,” she said.

“It was picked up on when I was 14 years old, but because I succeeded academically they decided I did not need intervention.

“I did feel frustrated, as I felt like I should have been seen … [but] I do think there is not much knowledge around it and I don’t put blame on anyone.”

Rhiannon said her struggles with socialising eventually led to her diagnosis, and since then has been happier.

“I know what my limits are, which means I can give myself the time which I may not have been able to do without the diagnosis,” she said.

“I have a lot of empathy for other young people who … don’t get the support they need.”

Rhiannon said Kid x Plus works to highlight the issues that young people want to talk about, and key listeners will help participants develop their idea.

“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to speak about your interests in an inclusive space.

“Really you don’t get to do this much as a young person … [but] the change in society really affects us the most as young people.”