“Be creative … and find what works for you to feel better or more you.”

“I pick a piece of lavender on my walk to school every morning to help anxiety and to stay calm. Since they took my music away, this is very helpful.”

“Everyone has negative emotions and everyone needs to find a way to alleviate it or manage them to feel more positive in general.”

“We can raise awareness which will lead to education for more people to understand what others or themselves might be going through.”

Photographer: Leila McMillan

This photograph featured in the Youth Booth exhibition showcasing the work of 10 Victorian young people produced over the 2019-2020 Australian summer. Their work captures their collective experience: being digitally savvy, the stress of study, influence of social media, climate change and the impact of poor mental health. These perspectives, along with our video series produced alongside this, allow us to see the complex situations that impact the youth experience of education.

For schools, teachers, parents and policy-makers it highlights the importance of listening and collaboration with young people, particularly when developing policies and implementing practice to build more inclusive communities. For researchers, we hope this exhibition highlights one way to use participatory visual research methods to support and strengthen the voice of youth.

The exhibition adopts a rights-based perspective which emphasises the importance not only of listening to youth, but actively and authentically collaborating on matters that directly affect them.

The study was conducted by researchers Dr Christine Grove and Louisa Trainer in 2019-2020 at Monash University and is funded by the Monash Education Small Grant Award.