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25 September 2015—Four young Australians attend Global Youth Summit Against Violent Extremism in NYC

Minister for Justice

Four young Australians attend Global Youth Summit Against Violent Extremism in NYC

25 September 2015

Four talented young Australians will travel to New York City this weekend to take part in the ONE95: Global Youth Summit Against Violent Extremism.

This Summit, held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly will bring together more than 300 youth from all over the world.

They will develop and showcase their innovation to prevent the rise of violent extremism in their communities with the aim of linking projects with private sector financial and training support.

I am pleased to announce the four young Australian representatives are:

  • Widyan Fares from New South Wales;
  • Oussama Abou-Zeid from Victoria;
  • Jeeven Nadanakumar from the Australian Capital Territory; and
  • Sowaibah Hanifie from South Australia.

All four of these young Australians are proud representatives of our country and their local communities and have already achieved great things in their early careers.

While at the Summit, participants will provide insights and input into the Action Agenda aimed at giving advice to youth-focused organisations on steps to prevent violent extremism and build community resilience.

The Action Agenda will be presented at next week's Leader's summit to Counter ISIL and CVE and will be used to guide future youth initiatives against violent extremism.

Violent extremism is an issue all communities are facing. It is a long-term challenge and one that requires innovative and collaborative approaches between individuals, communities, industry and governments.

The Australian Government is proud to support these young people's involvement in the Global Youth Summit as part of its commitment to countering violent extremism.

Initiatives such as the Global Youth Summit are a fantastic way of bringing together the skills, knowledge and young people to tackle this global problem and I look forward to meeting our representatives when in New York.

Further information on the four representatives:

Widyan Fares, NSW

Widyan Fares migrated to Australia in 1995 after leaving Rafha refugee camp in Saudi Arabia, where she was born after her parents escaped from Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Widyan Fares has been working as a journalist and project manager for over four years. She's currently a senior writer and acting editor for the Point Magazine at Multicultural NSW covering issues related to multiculturalism, community cohesion and violent extremism. She is also currently the media consultant for the Lebanese Muslim Association and heading a media project of improving the relationship between Australian mainstream media and the Australian Muslim community.

Oussama Abou-Zeid, VIC

Community activist, Oussama Abou-Zeid, has been the forefront of social change and multicultural advocacy for many years. In 2015 he became an advisor for the Victorian Governments' Social Cohesion and Community Resilience Advisory Group.

In 2014 he was elected as the 2014 Youth Premier of Victoria, elevating his role to the head of the Youth Parliament and positioning him as one of Victoria's foremost youth representatives. Oussama hails from the inner west of Melbourne, where he has made a significant contribution to the civic life of the area.

Oussama was honoured as the 2013 Youth Citizen of the Year for Hobsons Bay for organising a football match between the Jewish and Islamic youth communities. Oussama has advocated for multiculturalism, tolerance and understanding in an area of Melbourne that is too often known for its division. Currently studying a Bachelor of Construction Management at Deakin University in Geelong, Oussama Abou-Zeid has a passion for AFL, family and his faith.

Sowaibah Hanifie, SA

Sowaibah is a journalism student at the University of South Australia and also an event organiser for the Islamic Society of SA. A majority of her work involves youth,  and she places strong emphasis on the role of young people in the community.

Sowaibah was the event organiser for the Al Salam and Eid Festivals attracting 3000-strong crowd, and National Mosque Open day where 500 attended. She has also given talks regarding violent extremism in youth at the Intercultural Adelaide Conference. She is an active member in her community and has a keen interest in engaging with youth on counter violent extremism.

Jeeven Nadanakumar, ACT

Jeeven Nadanakumar studies Law and Economics at The Australian National University and is currently on exchange at The George Washington University in Washington DC. For the past three years he has worked for World Vision Australia to inspire and empower thousands of young Australians to support international development projects overseas.

Jeeven is also an active member of Canberra's Tamil community and has been a regular speaker and presenter at multicultural community events. In 2015, Jeeven worked as an advisor to the Government of the Australian Capital Territory on multicultural affairs and social cohesion as a member of the One Canberra Reference Group. He is a former volunteer youth broadcaster on FM91.1 Canberra Multicultural Service Community Radio.

Jeeven is passionate about changing the conversation around refugees and asylum seekers, and working to end racial discrimination in Australia. He is also interested in the links between sustainable development and global peace and security.