On this Page
  1. Access to Resources and Information
  2. Leadership, Media, and Community Management
  3. Youth Facilities and Spaces
  4. Education and Employment
  5. Community Connection and Belonging
  6. Conclusion

Related Links
  Needs Analysis

  BIRR Guidebook
  BIRR Brochure



Based on community engagement and consultation, the following needs were identified as being necessary to meeting BIRR’s objectives and goals. Data was collected from various sources, including focus group meetings, consultations, and engagement and interaction with youth.

We have used two methods to discover what Muslim youth of southwest Sydney want:

  • Measuring the ‘felt need’ by asking young people what they wanted; and

  • Measuring ‘expressed need’ by looking at what young people actually do to demonstrate that they require a service or have a need.


1. Access to Resources and Information

Young people noted the lack of access they have to resources and essential information. Resources included services about accommodation, health services, recreational and leisure activities, access to funding and equipment, and places to meet in and which allow for the development of ideas and projects.

Many did not know where to access information about services, events, and other social activities. They identified peers and friends as their main sources of information. Many youth with access to a computer found information on the internet, and they generally thought that the internet served as a good source of information.

It was suggested that alternative methods of communication are needed in order to deliver information directly to Muslim youth. Also, a more intensive and effective personal support network was identified as a need for those youth who have serious socio-economic or family problems or who are engaging or have engaged in criminal behaviour.


2. Leadership, Media, and Community Management

Some of the youth who were consulted showed little or no knowledge of what the Muslim community and its organisations do. Also, many had developed a sense of alienation as a result of the biased media representation.

Some of those consulted were under 18 years and therefore not old enough to get involved in community affairs. They indicated that they wish to get more involved and interested in community decision-making.

Some of the youth interviewed believe that the community’s primary focus has been on facility provisions e.g. mosques, centers, and school facilities, but not enough focus was given to their human and identity needs with respect to issues of discrimination, employment, and belonging.

In return, the community sector also recognised that many organisations only play a limited role in supporting the networking of Muslim youth; hence the youth are an easier target to those wanting to attract them to the message of extremism and radicalisation due to their higher level of vulnerability. Appreciation for this fact appeared to be growing in the older generation.


3. Youth Facilities and Spaces

The youth consulted acknowledged that most places they hang out at are those that attract a lot of other youth, such as the malls, train stations, local pools, shops, cinemas, and friends houses. These were seen as popular because they provided a relaxing, safe, atmosphere to spend some time with friends.

Although youth generally find things to do where they hang out, the majority however feel that there aren’t enough accessible and adequate facilities and places to hang out and have a good time. Existing local parks, open spaces, and indoor facilities are not set up appropriately to accommodate for the growing numbers of youth and their recreational needs and preferences.

Many youth identified the infrastructure of existing fitness centers, sporting facilities, and local parks as needing enhancement. They advised that they wanted to be healthy, but were not satisfied with the facilities available.

The parents and the community sector pointed to issues such as a lack of ‘Muslim-friendly’ entertainment, venues, and facilities, especially at night and on weekends. The lack of involvement in community affairs by Muslim youth has meant that youth are not tied into the design processes for the development of community facilities and space.



4. Education and Employment

Some youth we consulted felt that they had specific education and work goals while others were unsure of what they wanted to do once completing highschool. Many youth felt that they had limited employment options, due to issues relating to discrimination, especially since hearing quite a few incidences relating to discrimination in employment. This sentiment was supported by some other sectors of the community.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data also indicates a high unemployment rate for Muslim youth living in southwest Sydney in comparison to the New South Wales average. Factors such as experience levels and skills also affect the unemployment rate amongst Muslim youth. Many felt that there needs to be an increase in willingness from employers to employ them despite their background, especially for Muslim females wearing the headscarf and Muslim men with Arabic sounding names.



5. Community Connection and Belonging

The main source for community connection and belonging for Muslim youth is via their peers at school, sporting activities, mosques, and neighborhood networks. Many youth expressed their discontent with the lack of positive recognition for their potential and contributions by older people in the community as well as the indifference afforded to their ethnic backgrounds in their community and state schools.

Muslim youth feel that a lot of the older generations pass judgments and negative opinions about the younger generations, citing this as a cause of the sense of contempt and discouragement amongst themselves and peers. Muslim youth need the intergenerational gap between their parents’ generation and themselves to be addressed; otherwise an identity crisis develops where the youth feel excessively excluded from their own immediate communities as well as from the wider community. We identified this issue as one of the significant bases for youth vulnerability to extremist ideology.

Furthermore, southwest Sydney suburbs have significant Muslim populations. However, because of the culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds of Muslim families, many of the youth cited often felt socially disconnected, discriminated against, and bullied in local areas and state schools due to the differences with those around them in both language and culture.




This analysis has documented the challenges and problems facing Muslim youth from southwest Sydney. Essentially, this consultation and interaction process has provided us with a better understanding of what is happening in our community and the role that BIRR can play in the future. Conducting a community needs analysis has better informed our decisions as we plan our program’s future and tailor it to better meet the needs of our target community.