Rameez Merchant

Rameez Merchant

Alumni spotlight

BCCJ (Hons) 2023

Meet Rameez Merchant, a remarkable criminology graduate making waves in Canberra. As a recent ABC Heywire storytelling competition winner, Rameez had the chance to change lives for young people in regional Australia. 

At the competition's summit, Rameez joined other winners from across the country to brainstorm how community organisations can use government grants to benefit teenagers and young adults. With a focus on sex education and consent, Rameez's team conceptualised a platform called Safe Sphere, where young people can ask questions and seek information in a safe environment. They presented their project to ministers and community leaders at Parliament House.

“It’s incredibly difficult to open up when it feels like nobody wants you to,” Rameez says. “There’s still so much stigma for young men, in particular, when talking about feelings. But when they are given the opportunity to open up, it’s freeing.”


The ABC Heywire competition provides a creative outlet for young people in regional areas to share and shape Australian culture through inspiring stories. Rameez’s story illustrates the daunting yet rewarding experience of speaking about important topics—such as losing his mother to cancer.

“Being open and talking about feelings and emotions requires a lot of honesty with yourself. It’s an incredibly challenging skill. But then all the fears of judgement and worry fade away. So much of the negativity that develops from bottling things up just dissipates.”

Rameez emphasises the importance of listening and creating environments where people can speak freely. “I’ve experienced being belittled for expressing the way I felt, which caused me to go back into my shell and bottle things up. I think many people, including a lot of young men, have had similar experiences.”

While studying social work at UNSW, Rameez discovered his passion for research and policy development in criminology. He graduated with a Bachelor of Criminology & Criminal Justice (Honours) in 2023.

His honours thesis, A Tick-Box Kind of Exercise, focused on the attitudes and experiences of young men toward sexual violence prevention at universities. “One standout moment during my research was when a participant from a focus group said it was the first time he had the opportunity to talk openly about sexual violence, gender, and power at university. That was a pretty special moment for me,” he recalls.

Reflecting on his journey, Rameez shares, “Criminology involves a personal and professional commitment to changing the lives of those in need. You might create environments where people feel safe to express themselves, improve the criminal justice system, or help individuals rehabilitate and reintegrate into society. Criminology graduates go out into the world to make meaningful change. If this resonates with you, then criminology could be a great fit.”

Recently, Rameez joined the Commonwealth Government Graduate Program. As a graduate employee with the Department of Education, he aims to build a career producing positive outcomes for young people in a variety of areas with the department.

June 2024