The #Youth of today: long chat with @haweywey & @jeffeffendi on new App to #amplify diverse young voices

Haweya & Jeffrey

Amplify empowers young people of diverse backgrounds to amplify their voices through a Humans of New York meets Instagram-like app.

The team and the issues:

What problem would Amplify solve, and for whom?

Bad news stories outweigh good news stories in the media by up to 17 to 1. There are social implications of negative narratives being the norm and shaping the conversations we have and how we see our world. In particular, negative mass media plays a significant role in the marginalisation of certain groups within communities. It also has detrimental effects on an individual’s identity, sense of belonging, and to community cohesion. Young people who feel targeted and marginalised by negative narrative relating to their identity are more vulnerable to a range of at risk behaviors.

We spoke with a focus group of young people from culturally diverse backgrounds and learnt that a major contributing factor to the disempowerment of young people, particularly those from already marginalised groups, is that they feel they lack a voice to challenge the mainstream media’s obsession with negativity. They have no means to challenge negative narratives and representations, but they are keen for opportunities to express their own stories.

How would Amplify solve that problem?

‘Amplify’ counteracts the impacts of negative representations in the media that divide communities and disempowers young people, particularly those from marginalised communities. Amplify aims to provide young people with an online space and community in which they can engage and share newsworthy stories that are excluded in mainstream media. It provides young people with an online space and community in which they not only belong, but can own their stories.

We will enable young people to ‘amplify’ their voices, by creating a mobile app to showcase the positive stories and real opinions of young people. We will enlist “Amplifiers” to collect and present these stories and views. “Amplifiers” will be young journalists, photographers, artists, designers, bloggers and satirists, who will use community networks to engage young people and give them a voice.

These positive stories will be easily accessible and highly relevant for the end user to engage with. The app will ask users to input their areas of interest and location, so that the stories they receive on their feed will highlight community change-makers and homegrown solutions that deeply resonate with them. Stories posted by our Amplifiers will use a Humans of New York-like lens to break barriers and humanise young Australians from diverse backgrounds.
Amplify is a project for people from all backgrounds but with a particular emphasis on giving a voice to marginalised young people. Young Australians who do not see themselves, their communities or their identities reflected accurately in day-to-day public narratives, whether film, news, or in public discussions. Amplify aims to encourage young people to connect with one another through the sharing of stories and experiences. Amplify will promote learning through interpersonal interactions and avoid one-sided forms of communication that reinforce stereotypes and do not encourage consideration of marginalised and alternative points of view.

Who is in the team behind Amplify?

Ilona is the team’s holistic strategist. She is the founder of Ignite Mentoring, a WA youth-run charity that supports high school students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and champions the social inclusion of marginalised youth. She studied Law and Economics at The University of Western Australia and will start the Teach For Australia program next year.

Haweya develops Amplify’s messaging and makes sure that the app is true to its social inclusion roots. She is a Research Analyst at a Perth think tank, and a UWA undergraduate. Haweya previously participated as Global Voices delegate to World Bank and IMF meetings in Washington and has deep interests in community development.

Jeffrey is the team’s creative thinker and designer. He’s the founder of DrawHistory, a creative agency that connects businesses with nonprofits to work on solving the world’s toughest issues together. Jeffrey is also a passionate advocate of social inclusion in youth communities, acting as UNICEF Australia’s Youth Ambassador in 2014-15.

Jess has extensive experience as a campaign organiser, having worked with WA Labor and Australian Council of Trade Unions. You can often find her rallying people to a cause, and that’s exactly where she fits in at Amplify – getting young people on board.

Mary is our resident marketer and knows where our target demographics are. She is a marketing graduate from Curtin University and has helped grassroots community organisations with fundraising efforts.