Roseanna is 21 years old and a volunteer Youth Ambassador for ReachOut Australia. Recently, she and Yvette Hamilton, ReachOut’s Senior Content Producer, collaborated on a touching and insightful video about Roseanna’s experiences with cyberbullying. They were brought together by ReachOut’s commitment to co-creating content with service users. Here are a few reasons why this is so important to us.

Young people are experts in their own lives

Nobody knows young people’s lives, experiences, needs, and insights better than themselves – so it makes sense that we should work with them to help others going through similar things. When it came to Yvette and Roseanna’s video, that meant working alongside each other throughout production.

For Yvette, working together with Roseanna was different from projects outside of ReachOut. ‘Often production is really singular, where one person writes the script just from their own perspective, but this was a collaborative process. When you’re working with a young person who’s experienced  the issue that you’re creating content about, you have access to the very best source to create the most authentic and real telling of the issue.’

We can make a bigger impact by combining our expertise

Working together on content catapults it to another level. Suddenly it becomes the truest, most relevant version of the experience it could be. The combination of a true story with a professional production team leads to an engaging, meaningful piece that has mental health impact.

Yvette says, ‘It’s totally Roseanna’s story. My role was simply to guide the production process and enable her experience to come to life.

ReachOut Program Manager Jackie McIver emphasises how crucial young people’s involvement is to the ReachOut service. ‘Our service exists at the intersection between young people, evidence and technology – so without involving young people, we don’t have ReachOut as we know it.

‘They’re a part of the process from the very beginning – from identifying needs, the research, through to creating the content. By involving young people we can build a bridge between what the evidence says, and what suits their everyday lives.’

Young Australians want to hear stories from others who’ve been through the same thing

Sharing a story makes the experience more real, gives hope, and can make you feel like you’re not alone. Roseanna’s video shows, rather than tells, how to deal with cyberbullying. Her involvement didn’t stop at the script – she fed into production so that the outcome is an accurate presentation of her experience.

Yvette reflects on how the production process centred on Roseanna. ‘Through an interview with Roseanna, we created a script that came from her own words, which we then worked into a story format. Roseanna decided how the video looked, especially what the character looked like, then the rest of the visual language flowed from that. We were merely the workhorses.’

Roseanna adds, ‘I enjoyed learning about the process of going from pre-production to production, and then seeing this amazing piece of content that came out afterwards. It was awesome to see it become a ‘thing’ so quickly over just a couple of weeks.’

Young people have powerful, insightful stories to share

It’s important to highlight stories of hardship – and Roseanna had the bravery to share hers. ‘I think people who’re going through cyberbullying and they’re watching this video, they’ll feel like they’re not alone. I think that’s the biggest message that I was trying to get across, was to reach out and find a support network. Because a lot of the time when you’re being cyberbullied you feel like you’re alone and that you can’t talk to anyone,’ says Roseanna.

Sharing one person’s story can make a difference to thousands through our platform

More than 1.58 million Australians and millions more globally visit ReachOut every year, making Roseanna’s story open to helping young people around the world. Jackie says, ‘When you combine the power of the story with the scale of our service, the potential reach is enormous.’

It’s an empowering (and rewarding) experience for everyone involved

Working together doesn’t just benefit the viewer. It has a positive impact on those involved in production, too – including Yvette. ‘I think it was empowering for both her and me. To be able to use the creative skills you have as a professional with someone who’s actually experienced this thing it makes it feel more real. It’s using your powers for good.’

Roseanna says, ‘I felt really privileged to be included. Being part of the process was very rewarding. I feel proud about it! I also feel sad that it happened to me. But overall I’m just really happy that something like this could come out of such a bad experience. I really like the fact that something amazing like this can inspire other people.’

Check out Roseanna’s story in our cyberbullying content on ReachOut.com.

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