In this episode we chat with social entrepreneur Mikhara Ramsing about mentoring young people in regional Australia, writing programs for young people from cultural diverse backgrounds, running a tea social enterprise which funds suicide prevention and Ethnic LGBT+ – a national resource platform for culturally and lignuistically diverse LGBTIQA+ communities. She believes stories save lives and has travelled 70,000 kms around Australia in a self-built tiny home connecting with youth in rural communities. You’ll love her story!

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Sound bite

And I spoke to principals who were having to, um, take kids home for dinner because they knew they weren’t going to get a hot meal, uh, where they, and this was at private schools as well. And, you know, the level of poverty I began to see in Australia, um, was really mind-blowing. And I know for someone over me who went through high school university in Brisbane, definitely was sheltered to all of that.

Did not see that level of poverty. And one town in particular always sticks with me. It’s um, it has the, uh, out of the weld, the, um, the two places in the world, and this is one of them here in rural new south Wales, um, has the lowest life expectancy in the world of 37 years old. And that’s in our backyard

I knew straight away that these schools, as much as they wanted these resources, they weren’t going to be able to afford it. So this is where my second enterprise of the chai came into play, where I thought, well, what’s something I know how to do and can do reasonably well and was making tea. And I loved making tea.

generic intro

Hello and welcome to the youth mentor podcast. This is your short burst of inspiration tips and research about teens for parents, educators, and mentors. I’m your host, Amanda Rootsey, founder of teen personal development school Shine From Within and coach to incredible youth mentors all over the world. Now I certainly don’t know it all.

So I interview the experts about what’s going on for youth today. From psychological insights to really practical advice, this is your moment of inspiration, motivation, and a few laughs amidst the ever changing world of teens and tweens.

Episode Intro

[00:01:26] Hello. I am thrilled to introduce you to Mikhara Ramsing. I’m seeing today in this episode, this is an excert of a longer chat that we’ve had with our certified youth mentors. And that it’s part of our youth mentor training. But. Oh, there’s just, there’s so much gold in this conversation. And Miks is, she’s just an incredible human she’s the founder of mixed chai, a tea social enterprise, which funds suicide prevention. And she’s the founder of Ethnic LGBT+ a national resource platform for culturally and linguistically diverse, LGBTIQA+ communities.

She believes that stories save lives and has traveled 70,000 kilometers around Australia in a self-built tiny home connecting with rural communities. She’s also a graduate of the Australian Institute of company directors and has been nominated as the young Australian of the year Queensland 2019, aFR top 100 women of influence and was awarded a Westpac social change fellowship, enabling her to attend Harvard university and work with communities around the world. She’s actually currently building a HR tool to help workplaces create inclusion for their people that is best practice and actionable. Um, and she’s really passionate about using business as a tool for social impact. She’s got a wonderful TEDx talk as well, which we’ll link to in the notes as well.

Um, but in this particular chat, what we’re talking about is, um, her experience actually of moving from South Africa to Australia as, um, as a teenager, We talk a lot about the wonderful programs that she’s written for young people and since, um, uh, passed on to other organizations to deliver. Um, and so it was really great to, to understand a little bit more about her approach to writing workshops based on our own lived experience and supplementing that with academic research and then tailoring those programs to meet the specific needs of rural students. Um, yeah, she’s, she’s incredible. And then we also talked about how are we going to be really great allies, uh, in mentoring youth in the LGBT plus community as well with, you know, the, all the rainbow kitties around the place. Um, and we talked a little about, um, the specifics of that within rural communities too. So there’s, there’s a lot here in this conversation and I’m so thrilled to share it with you. Enjoy!


Episode Begins

[00:03:41] I thought it might be nice just to hear a little bit more about, um, How you got started working with youth and some of the things that you’ve done in that space. 

[00:03:51] MIkhara Ramsing: Yeah, definitely. And, um, just before I start, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that I’m presenting upon today, the Turbal and Juggera people, and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.

[00:04:02] Just acknowledged that storytelling has happened on this land for well over 60,000 years. And, um, it’s incredible to be part of that rich tradition and continue to share stories. So thank you for having me today to share a bit of my story and, um, yeah, I, that’s a really good point. Like how did I first get involved in working with youth and why am I so passionate about working with young people?

[00:04:24] And I think, um, really when it comes down to it, it was, um, me, myself having the privilege of having my life changed when I was a 15, 16 year old. And, um, I actually grew up in South Africa and I’m part of a big loving, um, family of six. And my parents immigrated myself and my three siblings about 16 years ago.

[00:04:45] So I was 14 when I left, um, South Africa and my grandparents and my cousins. And of course it was culture shock and I actually. First lived in a town called . Um, if anyone knows it and it’s on the border of new south Wales and Victoria, and it’s a beautiful town and it was such a lovely introduction to Australian culture.

[00:05:05] Um, but it was also, I went from a big city, um, and it was very multicultural to effectively being the only person of color in my grade. And I noticed that and felt that culture shock. And, um, the fact that my school lunches were different to my peers and, um, my accent was different and things you really notice as a teenager when you’re trying to fit in.

[00:05:27] And so I felt quite vulnerable at that age and something that, um, really helped me was having, um, These, um, we had a wonderful school and a really great student representative council. And I remember I was starting as a new year aged student and the year Eleven’s would come and sit with us at lunch and sort of a buddy system.

[00:05:47] And for me, that was a bit of a lifeline. Like I had this wonderful buddy who, um, you know, when I felt a bit alone at lunchtime was trying to navigate my feed or. Very scared to talk to anyone. It was kind of like, oh, I’ve got someone looking out for me. And it made me feel really important. And again, when I was 16, we moved cities and I moved to Brisbane and I started as the new kid halfway through year 10.

[00:06:09] And again, that was scary. And I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful leadership experience where I went on a leadership camp with other, um, hundreds of 16 year olds at the time. And again, we had these, um, young adults, these 19, these 22 year olds who worked with us. And it was the first time again that I felt truly heard and seen and supported.

[00:06:29] And it was such a pivotal moment in my life as a teenager where it felt like someone really believed in me and created a space for my peers. And yeah. We’re taken seriously. Like we wanted to change the world and people didn’t just laugh or tell us we were naive. Like they’re like, okay, how are you going to do it?

[00:06:44] Let’s support you. And obviously that had a lasting effect because it resulted in after six years of a law and economics degree, working as an economist in Deloitte, me actually leaving that all behind because I still want to change the world. And I feel like I wasn’t doing that in my old job. So it gave me the courage and the passion to then found my own social enterprises to make more of a difference.

[00:07:05] And I wanted to provide that to young people again. So I knew what a difference it made to me having someone a little bit out of school or a little bit older, actually take me seriously. And that’s what drove me to write programs and run workshops, particularly for rural youth where I knew. You know, an old reason well-resourced city, but having now spent, um, you know, the last four years traveling 70,000 kilometers around Australia, young people don’t get a lot of representation.

[00:07:31] I wanted to just show them there’s more to life. Like I take you seriously, like let’s work together. So that was my passion and how I got involved working with young people and why I think that age is so important, 

[00:07:44] Amanda: so inspiring and amazing to think that, um, those little seeds are planted so young for you.

[00:07:52] And you came back to it after what sounds like. Yeah, like a really successful career going in another direction as well. 

[00:08:01] MIkhara Ramsing: It’s so formative and I think I’m so hot and like each generation I work with, it just gives me more and more hope for the future. And, you know, I really take, take solace in that, especially in trying times where it seems like there’s so much happening in the world, I really do believe like each generation just gets better and better and it makes me so excited.

[00:08:19] So I think the young people, if we can give them more of an active voice and a seat at the table, um, we can start to see some real passionate change very quickly. 

[00:08:30] Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. They’re um, yeah, they’re incredible. I’m pretty sure everyone watching this would agree with 

[00:08:36] MIkhara Ramsing: me preaching to the choir here.

[00:08:39] Yeah. So 

[00:08:42] Amanda: you mentioned that, um, developing, actually

[00:08:45] writing programs for young people. Um, could you tell us a little bit about, about, 

[00:08:50] MIkhara Ramsing: um, so, um, I guess I want to preface from the outset that, um, I have no formal training in, um, in, in writing programs or, um, studying that at university in any capacity. Um, and of course with that brings a lot of, um, self doubt as to, you know, why should I even be writing that?

[00:09:10] And what helped me is, um, Oh, the workshops I rode would purely based on my own lived experiences. So I felt capable speaking with authority and having the confidence to deliver them. Um, and then I fleshed them out with, um, with academic research. So I could back up, uh, the, the, with statistics, why this was important and what I was doing.

[00:09:32] So the first sort of areas where I wrote workshops for was largely driven by my journey as a young queer woman of color, which is what I identify as, and the fact that when I was navigating my sexual identity, there were no resources I could see myself in. So for me, um, you know, as a 17 year old, which was when I first brought my family into that queer identity, you know, a narrative that started is, um, you’re, you’re forgetting your Indian culture.

[00:09:59] Like there’s, there’s no gay Indian woman that we know of. Like, you’re, you’re choosing this. You’re, you’re forgetting your culture. You’ve been influenced. And it began this really interesting narrative between me feeling like I had to choose to be Indian or choose to be. Which is very dumb because of course, neither is a choice.

[00:10:18] And, um, I wanted other young people, um, who had identifying across the rainbow spectrum of which there is a growing cohort. Um, you know, uh, life, uh, lifeline, I believe did this really interesting survey where they found 11% of young people identify as LGBT I QA. We know in the recent, um, consensus that, uh, one in five Australians are from a migrant background, 27% speak a language other than English at home.

[00:10:42] So there was this growing cohort of Australians that felt just like me, who weren’t having resources in the rainbow space, that one showed them and also spoke to their cultural experiences. So, um, it literally, uh, took, uh, Me getting to a good point in my journey with my family in particular, where I felt safe enough and comfortable enough to start sharing my own lived experiences.

[00:11:07] So I, um, jumped on YouTube and learn how to do a WordPress site, a website, um, a book that really helped me in thinking how to write, uh, uh, products and get it out to people was called the a hundred dollars startup by Chris Guillebeau and effectively, it says you need three things. Really like if you, if you want to start a business out of this, or you want to start resources, a good or service or product, but make sure you’re solving a real problem, um, a way for people to find you, so a website and a way for people to, um, to pay you, to support you so you can grow.

[00:11:37] So I set up a free PayPal account. I got a free WordPress site and I just began blogging and I just began writing down my experiences and what resources I wanted and then began collaborating. Space working with more established organizations to, um, create their existing resources into a culturally and linguistically diverse lens.

[00:11:58] Now, of course, this was a resource that I felt was best put online as the safe schools program was very. Topical at the moment. And, um, I didn’t personally feel safe approaching schools and, but I knew, I, I knew I wanted to go in person and work with schools. So I fell back to my other lived experience, which is entrepreneurship.

[00:12:17] So I did my economic thesis in the social entrepreneur and, um, I had all this theory behind me, but I, it was when I began walking the talk. And when I left Deloitte access economics and started my own social enterprises, that I then learned a whole bunch of skills around. Um, how do you solve a real problem?

[00:12:35] Uh, how do you source money payment? How do you reach people? So I just began writing tiny workshops on that, but when I actually went into these schools to talk to them about it, what they really wanted to know was even more basic things like how do students write a resume? Because, because they want to get a job.

[00:12:53] And I’m talking specifically working with rural students, because interestingly enough, out of, um, all the rural students I worked with versus the ones in city centers, every rural kid had a part-time. It was just part of the culture, whether they were 11 or 12, it was on the family farm or the family trade, or it was in hospitality.

[00:13:10] Every single one of them had a part-time job and they wanted to progress and they wanted to know communication skills. So it was a balance of writing what I felt I had authority to write, but then listening to what they want. And trialing it. But what I did is when I was there talking about entrepreneurship, I would always make sure to tell them a bit about me.

[00:13:29] And I would say, you know, I identify as a queer woman of color straight away. If there were any kids they’re questioning their, their sexual identity. It’s like, Oh, I might be the first person that said that out loud for them. And suddenly they have a person they can think of and, you know, it can be normalized in that sense.

[00:13:46] So that was how I sort of got into schools. And some schools were once, like I said, that it was amazing. Principals would kind of be like, actually, you know, we have our first, um, transgender identifying kid in, in who’s 14. Um, can you point us in the right direction? We want to know how to support them. Um, do you do any workshops on this?

[00:14:04] So that was the. The leg in. So anything that I felt that might be controversial or political, I went for a safer route, but then didn’t hide who I was and was able to expand the, my ability to work with the kids in, in that way. So, um, those were the workshops I wrote. Um, and then that sort of culminated as these things involve my main bread and butter and where I enjoy writing a lot of workshops now is, um, in the entrepreneurial space and specifically for, um, culturally and linguistically diverse women, aren’t dropping years.

[00:14:34] So, um, a lot of these, uh, again, as I was learning on, um, going through and working with communities, a lot of young. Have business skills from a very early age, um, especially those from refugee and migrant backgrounds, who’ve come from developing countries where their mothers are often running businesses, be that in a food store that they’re running in a basket weaving in any of those sort of pliable trades.

[00:15:02] Um, these young women are exposed to entrepreneurial skills from an early age. They are quite entrepreneurial. They come to Australia and they have no idea where to start and you know, how much red tape there is, and starting a business here, things from getting a tax file number to an ABN. And when you Google how to get an ABN, which is free to get there’s so many websites, I can’t seem for $50.

[00:15:22] You can get an ABM when it’s, when it’s a free, um, thing to access. So it was about just again, simple stuff, like making them aware that, um, here’s the checklist. Here’s the steps. Let’s do it right now. So not even talk about it, you know, within a two day program, we would get them to establish their ABNs, uh, jump on Canva, um, create a logo.

[00:15:43] Test the market with their Facebook group and try and launch their good or service the next day and pitch in front of a judge. So I was very focused on, on showing them, building confidence through doing it in the workshop. Um, because as soon as you walk away, what I found with these programs is they might not feel that capable to do it anymore, or, you know, um, they don’t feel understood.

[00:16:05] So that was a big learning curve for me and, and having to talk more about that and rambling, but that’s kind of the workshops I’ve written in, in the various spaces, 

[00:16:14] Amanda: not rambling at all. . 

[00:16:16] And it was, it’s been, I feel so lucky and I’m honored that I’ve got to see one of those workshops in inaction, one of your two day workshops with, um, with young migrant women getting to go through that process of deciding on an issue that they really wanted to tackle as a group, and then watching them play on canvas and pitching to yeah.

[00:16:38] To a judge, it was pretty, um, pretty inspiring to 

[00:16:42] MIkhara Ramsing: see it, Mandy. So thank you for helping me out there. You were very kind to volunteer your time. Thank you.

[00:16:49] Amanda: Oh, you’re welcome. It was great to be, to be part of it. And one of the girls that was in that group actually, um, just got in touch with me recently. She found me on social media and she wants to write a book about her journey of coming to Australia.

[00:17:02] And she’s really, really excited. So I’m sure. a little seed was sparked that 

[00:17:06] MIkhara Ramsing: day by you. Incredible. Oh, that’s so heartening to hear. Thank you. 

[00:17:12] Amanda: Great. So, um, I, uh, I just love so much of what you said that in particular, I think some of those things like, um, one that when it comes to qualifications, it’s more important, I think, to, to have that lived experience and speak from what you know, and, and as you said, that combination of that plus listening and figuring out what they actually need, and then making sure that you’re backing it up with some, with some research and, and having a bit of, um, having that knowledge of how to put together the programs.

[00:17:46] And trialing it out and seeing the same kind of what works and what does it mean? It’s 

[00:17:50] MIkhara Ramsing: definitely more of a, um, another, I mean, nuance that I learned through experience was, you know, I’d sort of gone in initially with a teacher attitude and, and, uh, thought that I had to keep imparting knowledge, but really where the most learning has come is when I’m a facilitator and I’m, I’m allowing and creating space for them to share knowledge and apply learning.

[00:18:13] So of course, you know, you’re providing substance and practical skills, but, um, it’s then creating the space for them to apply it in their own way that the, the learning becomes long lasting as opposed to reading a textbook or just throwing that data with them or giving them a checklist. Like this is why I really believe in action-based, um, you know, learning modules, um, and why really take to task the education system.

[00:18:38] Um, but this is why workshops, like this is so important. It’s real, it’s part of the real world. It’s allowing them to engage with that in the safety of a school classroom and with you holding space for them. So, yeah, I definitely see that as, as, uh, the role now, like facilitator more so, 

[00:18:57] Amanda: and as he said, right at the beginning to, to, to hold a space for them to feel heard, rather than talking at them, it’s just 

[00:19:05] MIkhara Ramsing: gold.

[00:19:08] Amanda: So, um, you’ve mentioned that you’ve spent a lot of good time in rural spaces. How did you find that process of getting into rural schools? How did that 

[00:19:18] MIkhara Ramsing: happen? Yeah, um, it was terrifying for me because, um, Well recall Sony moments. I literally took the route of cold calling. Um, so I had a few, um, uh, connections, uh, from working in some city schools with principals and they said, oh, you know, I know the principal of this, uh, happy to tell you, but it was still a cold call at the end of the day.

[00:19:41] And I literally, um, this is how it would work. Um, you know, my partner and I would plot a route of four. So in 2017 we did the six months around Australia. We, we plotted our route. We knew we had to be, um, et cetera. And point certain points and such session dates. And, um, I would literally, uh, so we left in July and, um, in sort of me, I would, um, call late, starting with where we’re going first, all the schools in the wet area we were going to, and I would cold call them.

[00:20:13] Gosh, it was terrifying. And, um, I initially would always ask for the principal, but the principal was always too busy to speak to me. So actually the person I needed to speak to, and this was learning of course, was the career advisor. And if they didn’t have a career advisor, the year level coordinator, um, or as it tended to be that always refer me to the one passionate teacher.

[00:20:35] There was always the one teacher who, who just had spoken a bit about development or extracurricular. And, um, you know, these schools were, were so happy to speak to me, but of course money was an issue. So, um, even when I, uh, when I was running worships in the Byron bay area, even an hour out of Byron bay, um, in Cayogle and casino, uh, $5 per student was a bigger.

[00:20:58] And I spoke to principals who were having to, um, take kids home for dinner because they knew they weren’t going to get a hot meal, uh, where they, and this was at private schools as well. And, you know, the level of poverty I began to see in Australia, um, was really mind-blowing. And I know for someone over me who went through high school university in Brisbane, definitely was sheltered to all of that.

[00:21:18] Did not see that level of poverty. And one town in particular always sticks with me. It’s um, it has the, uh, out of the weld, the, um, the two places in the world, and this is one of them here in rural new south Wales, um, has the lowest life expectancy in the world of 37 years old. And that’s in our backyard.

[00:21:36] Um, and the town just popped out of my head. Um, well, Kenya, that’s it, the town of Wil Kenya near broken hill on routes. Um, I knew straight away that these schools, as much as they wanted these resources, they weren’t going to be able to afford it. So this is where my second enterprise of the chai came into play, where I thought, well, what’s something I know how to do and can do reasonably well and was making tea.

[00:22:03] And I loved making tea. And it was, um, it helped my mental wellbeing. Uh, it was a point where I could share a story and felt heard and it tied in beautifully. So I began sourcing these beautiful ingredients, making Chai, selling it in markets and using the funding to fund this impact. I also applied, um, to, for partnered up with organizations like global sisters who helped me run the workshops for the young, um, migrant women on entrepreneurship.

[00:22:30] And we access the city foundations funding. So it was, it was a lot of moving pieces where I was trying to call funders, trying to call schools. Um, schools are notoriously known for their calendars filling up extremely quickly, and I’m just having to be persistent because. Yes they wanted, but they’re so under-resourced teachers are exhausted.

[00:22:51] This is just another thing to tick off. So trying to make it as easy as possible for them to just say yes and being persistent. So that’s something I had to learn. I don’t have a sales background or, um, you know, that sort of industry experience, but I knew what a difference it would make to the kids. And I really believed in that and that gave me the, the willpower and the, the attitude to be like, no, I know you’re tired, but these were really healthy kids.

[00:23:16] So let’s do it. Like let’s just, let’s make it happen. And I’m trying to then reach out to any, um, rotary clubs or Headspace was a really useful organization. Um, they would often have youth groups and were happy for me to, to join an existing youth group and talk to young people then. Um, so that’s kind of how I would approach it.

[00:23:36] So I’d call ahead. Say I’m going to be passing through your town. Um, there were many. That went unfunded that I just did for free. That was, you know, just rewarding. And I’m looking for local Facebook groups too. So especially in the rainbow space, a lot of it wasn’t very visible, but, um, I would try to find if someone knew of a closed Facebook group and then introduce myself, then build trust and see if they were happy for me to work with communities there.

[00:24:04] So through that sort of ambling process, we then got to work with more and more schools and, um, and then, uh, try to link in with existing organizations to, to run bigger programs. 

[00:24:15] Amanda: So creative finding all the different ways to kind of, to fund it and to get it happening. Um, 

[00:24:24] MIkhara Ramsing: you have to be resourceful, I think, in the education system.

[00:24:28] Amanda: Yeah. So nice to hear. What’s worked for you and that it does take a little bit of persistance. And I think for, for a few of the youth mentors that come through the training, they’re always hoping for that. Um, what’s the one person that you call in a school and what’s the one approach that’s going to work.

[00:24:44] And it’s so different for every 

[00:24:46] MIkhara Ramsing: school. It is. But I would say yes, school counselors are year level coordinators was where I got the most traction, not the principals and of course had sent a formal letter. So they would say the deputy needs to tick off on this, but my actual touch person were those two roles.

[00:25:01] So that was an interesting, yeah. Yeah. 

[00:25:04] Amanda: That’s great to hear. Yeah. And, um, wonderful to hear about, uh, another thing that comes up quite a bit with the youth mentors is that, um, they want to be working with and supporting young people that would not be able to afford to come along to these programs. So.

[00:25:20] Hearing different ways that you’ve found that funding by doing your own thing or, or linking in with other organizations is, um, I think really hopeful to know that there are 

[00:25:29] multiple options.

[00:25:32] MIkhara Ramsing: Um, yeah, and I guess the wonderful thing is a lot of people are so willing to help. Like they, they do want to help, um, you know, you and your cause, and it’s just a matter of them, um, hearing about it.

[00:25:44] So it is a lot of just speaking to anyone, you know, about it, bringing it up at your parties, your, your dinners, just, just in a sentence or two. You’ll never know where it my lead. And, um, I’ve been, always been surprised by that when I’m sort of putting it out in the universe and, um, something will come through.

[00:26:00] So. 

[00:26:03] Amanda: I love hearing about the way that you have set your life up to, you know, you decided you wanted to travel around for six months. I mean, the places you wanted to go and then work back from that to see how you could get some work along the way and still do what you want to do. 

[00:26:16] MIkhara Ramsing: Um, it was terrifying not going to lie cause of course, um, and I think a change always is no matter what it is.

[00:26:23] And even though we’d planned it so well, you know, when I left the corporate job, I worked at how much money I needed to support myself for a year. Like I moved out of Sydney. I knew I couldn’t live there without a full-time salary. Um, you know, I was, I budgeted really well. Um, and even though I planned everything financially, emotionally on the day it came to leave, it was still hard and it’s just changed.

[00:26:43] And I guess my biggest learning from that is we are such creatures of habit. So I wanted to start a new cycle for myself. I thought, let me build traveling rural Australia into my cycle. And I did that in 2017 and we’ve been doing it every year. And I run two businesses and it’s just part of the culture.

[00:27:00] And it allows, you know, I think, especially as a founder, it’s interesting because when you step away from the businesses, you start, it allows your team to grow and it doesn’t become dependent on you. So it means it will outlive you, which is every founder’s dream. Right. So, um, yeah, just creating habits and centering what’s most important to you and everything else should work around that.

[00:27:19] And it does. So, um, I’ve been able to see that in practice now for the last four years, it’s just been amazing. 

[00:27:26] Amanda: Is there, um, I just had a thought about what you were saying that rural communities and, and the youth there, and even the cowed LGBT plus young people are there, does anything come to mind around ways that youth mentors could be more supportive for some of those, those groups of people that they might not, share identity with, I suppose.

[00:27:49] MIkhara Ramsing: No, I think that’s a great question because it’s. Honestly, um, to make any sort of change, it’s always through allyship, uh, whatever the cause like you need a mass group of people to, to make social change and cultural change. And, um, you’ll always have the group experiencing, um, you know, any, any of the setbacks because of how they identify or who they are or the color of their skin, their gender.

[00:28:12] Um, you know, we see this so clearly in the gender equality space, like it, it takes, um, allies, it takes, um, male identifying, uh, human beings to champion the cause as well. Like all of us need to be involved to, to champion this. And I think something that’s helped me in working particularly, um, in rainbow LGBTQA spaces, knowing that, you know, I just have one set of experiences and everyone’s life story is so diverse is being really mindful of my language.

[00:28:40] Like that’s always a great starting point and I think Australians do this very well. They always ask, you know, What’s your, uh, who’s your partner, and then making sure you follow it up with a, a non-gendered pronoun, like, oh, what did they do? Or, you know, not, not assume anything. Um, and, um, same with, um, even words, um, such as like coming out it’s, um, a more preferred term in like the, the CALD space is sometimes coming home or coming in.

[00:29:14] So even words that, um, you know, might, might seem very normalized. Um, even stuff like the word CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse), like the thing is, you know, definitions are not set by the people it’s, it’s set by government legislation and academic literature. And so they might not even see themselves in that word. And just Y so I tend to start my sessions and kids sometimes fall or not, but I say, you know, my name is Mikhara, my preferred pronouns are her and hers. And, um, some kids like to say their pronouns, others just brush over it. But I even started like board meetings with, um, with, with directors in that way too. Just so there is an acknowledgement that, uh, there’s no assumptions being made and people are referred to in a way that they’re being comfortable, um, with, and it shocked some of the school teachers at times, because they’re like, it’s not, it’s not as commonly done, but it, um, I find that a good way to create a safe place.

[00:30:10] And, um, even just, um, you know, I, I, me acknowledging my identity creates a safe place in that sense. Um, and yeah, just, just calling out little things like, um, so even, you know, an allyship and I do this as well. Like if a student. Oh, that’s so gay, like unpicking that, like whether you do it in a public way or, or say, Hey, that’s actually, um, pretty derogatory.

[00:30:34] You’re, you’re implying that in a negative sense. Like, and they’ll be like, oh, you know, laugh it off, whatever, but it sticks with them. And just picking up language, I think is, is a huge step in, um, how we, we create safe places. So I found that to be a really like, impactful way to do that. 

[00:30:51] Amanda: Yeah. Great. And it’s such simple shifts that we can make and to keep kind of learning and keep, keep evolving our language 

[00:30:58] MIkhara Ramsing: and.

[00:30:59] A great little exercise I run with, I learnt this from, , pride and diversity, a great, LGBTQI network, often sometimes run this with staff is, just to give them an idea of, how students who identify as,, you know, sexual or gender diverse, how, um, how much it is on their mind at times I have to think about is I asked them to talk about their, their spouse or their partner, but not to disclose the spouses of partners, gender to their neighbor.

[00:31:25] So you, you know, um, you can’t use their name if that gives away gender, you can’t use the pronouns and gosh, it takes them a long time and they realize like, yeah, that’s the mental load that, you know, um, these young people who identify in that way, are caring because, um, they’re not sure how peers will react and how schools will react , there’s the interplay of religious schools. Like how does that fit in that context? And, um, sometimes it’s such an eye-opener to. You know, students can’t concentrate on homework because, because that they’re occupied with this and build some empathy. Yeah. What a great exercise.

[00:31:58] Thank you. That’s a bit of fun.

[00:32:03] Uh, we were always such a pleasure to talk to and really believe in the work your shine from within is doing so, um, yeah, keep going. I mean, funding is such a big problem in this space and it is tough, like getting valued for the work you do. And I think what we need to do as an industry is make schools realize that this is not, it’s not a nice to have or a luxury product.

[00:32:22] This is an essential thing. And as important as maths and science and language and English is, this is too. And, and, and, and that’s kind of the vision I like. I’m trying to work towards with schools, like to view this as an as necessary and. I mean, there’s some great companies that believe in this and want to work with youth.

[00:32:41] So to be creative with your funding, like, you know, there’s, um, a lot of cool well-resourced, you know, moneymaking, corporates that want an in with schools, of course that’s a graduate pipelines, like, you know, like think about how they benefit and, and allow you to deliver on your impact because at the end of the day, like that’s what matters, like you getting to deliver that impact.

[00:33:04] And, um, you know, that kid will choose whether they want to go to that corporate or not at the end of the day, really like, um, yeah. Be creative with your funding and get lots of funding cause that, that really helps. Hmm. Um, 

[00:33:18] Amanda: and did you find, um, that still possible, whether you’re a not-for-profit or not, you know, there’s still ways that that that can work.

[00:33:26] MIkhara Ramsing: Yeah. So, um, I mean, we were wanting to get, um, like DGR status and registered as a charity with, but that’s a very expensive process. And so instead we auspice, like we use, um, you can use like, uh, for example, we built a partnership with the Foundation of Young Australians and, um, can ask them to auspice us if we need to access grants that require you to have charity and, and, uh, deductible gift recipient status.

[00:33:51] So there’s always people willing to help you, um, you know, as you evolve and the charity is still on our, uh, cards, but that’s a few years time. And when we can afford to do the proper auditing that comes with being a charity. So it wasn’t a barrier in that sense. Cause we could find someone to lend us out and um, yeah, that was good.

[00:34:14] Amanda: Oh, I thank you so much Miks it’s been such, such a pleasure, so, so valuable. So, um, so special to be in this space with you and, and get to glean some of your wisdom. 


[00:34:28] Amanda: How great is Miks. I’m so excited that I got to share her with you, um, go and check out what she’s doing. Following her on LinkedIn. She’s over in, uh, she’s over in the U S at the moment, creating this amazing HR tool. Um, but she’s, she’s always open to it to have a conversation and a chat with anyone that’s been kind of passionate about working with young people too. So. Um, go and check her out. And I look forward to hanging out with the, in the next episode as well. Um, please feel welcome to leave your comments here. If there’s a spot for you on your podcasting platform to chat with us, or to send us, send us a question, um, or provide any feedback. I always love connecting with our wonderful listeners. Thanks for being here and talk to you soon.

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