Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Young Indigenous leaders meet in Canberra

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, will today welcome young Indigenous leaders to Parliament House in Canberra to convene the 2003 National Indigenous Youth Leadership Group (NIYLG).

“Members of this group represent the future of not only Indigenous leadership, but also Australian leadership. These exceptional young people have been selected because of their commitment to building better communities for all Australians.

“Today’s meeting will provide the Federal Government with the opportunity to hear first hand about how young Indigenous people and their communities can be better supported.

“The group has already identified several priority areas for discussion including education, health, substance abuse, community participation, cultural awareness and Government service delivery.

“Members have a diverse range of experiences including:

  • John Rawnsley, who is studying a combined degree in Law and Indigenous Studies,
  • Des’ree Shepherd, a young mother,
  • Michael Hayden, a dancer and didgeridoo player,
  • a variety of sportspeople, and
  • former members of the National Youth Roundtable.

“At the conclusion of meetings this week, the group will return to their communities to consult with other young people about these issues. They will meet again in October to present the Government with their findings and recommendations,” Mr Anthony said.

For more information about the NIYLG phone (free call) 1800 624 309.

A full list of 2003 National Indigenous Youth Leadership Group (NIYLG) follows.

National Indigenous Youth Leadership Group (NIYLG) 2003

Steven Austin, Nedlands WA

Steve, 23, is studying Medicine at the University of Western Australia. He is actively involved in his community as the student representative on the Geraldton Shire Council, a member of the Rural Health Student Society and a member of the Western Australian Student Aboriginal Corporation. Steve is a sergeant in the Army Cadets and he coaches junior hockey. At NIYLG, Steve wants to discuss health education for Indigenous young people.

Bronwyn Dillon, Kingston Tas

Bronwyn, 21, works in the Hobart Regional office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. She is active in her community as an Aboriginal Student Support and Parent Awareness Program co-ordinator and is a regular participant at Indigenous women’s forums. She is also a volunteer for Red Cross and the RSPCA. At NIYLG, Bronwyn wants to discuss alcohol and drug addiction, family violence, health, unemployment and strategies to improve the links young Indigenous people have to their families and the community.

Jonathon Collins, Stuart Park NT

Jonathon, 21, works for the Northern Territory Department of Health and has participated in the Foundation for Young Australians Indigenous Leadership Forum. He is currently very actively involved in his community as a Youth Grant Maker for the Foundation for Young Australians, a member of the National Planning Committee for National Youth Week 2003 and a youth representative on the Darwin NAIDOC Committee. Jonathon wants to discuss education, sexual health and well-being and family support for young parents.

Fiona Cornforth, Fadden ACT

22-year-old Fiona works at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. She is a young mother and is actively involved in her community through the Aboriginal Students Support and Parents Awareness Program, the ACT Torres Strait Islander Corporation and various cultural events. Fiona is a keen sportswoman and she captained the ACT Under 21 Indigenous touch football team. At NIYLG, she hopes to discuss education, employment and welfare issues and services for remote communities.

Lluwannee George, Lyons ACT

Lluwannee, 18, is studying Journalism and Information Technology at the University of Canberra. She is also undertaking a cadetship with the NSW House of Assembly. She contributes to her community through the Seventh Day Adventist Youth program and the Ngunnawal Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. She is an accomplished sportswoman who enjoys basketball, athletics, soccer and football and she has represented the ACT and NSW in tennis. Lluwannee is interested in promoting Torres Strait Island culture and language and hopes to encourage Indigenous representation in Parliament. While participating in NIYLG, she wants to encourage Indigenous Australians to consider tertiary education as an option, and to improve their financial management skills.

Michael Hayden, Wilson WA

Michael, 20, is a trainee field officer with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. He is a member of the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council and the National Indigenous Youth Movement. Michael is the leader of Njaki Njaki Dancers, a dance group for Indigenous boys and is also the didgeridoo player for Njaki Njaki. Michael enjoys playing basketball and is an active participant in Noongar sports carnivals. At NIYLG, Michael wants to discuss the implementation of culturally appropriate programs to address issues affecting young Indigenous people, including education, employment, substance abuse, domestic violence, housing, sexual abuse, homelessness and teenage pregnancies.

Stacey Kelly-Greenup, West Kempsey NSW

18-year-old Stacey was named Kempsey’s Young Citizen of the Year in 2003. She is a volunteer mediator for the Reconnect program through Regional Extended Family Services Inc and she is Chairperson of her local Youth Advisory Committee. Stacey is a volunteer with the West Kempsey Neighbourhood Improvement project and she has contributed to a website for Indigenous youth. At NIYLG, Stacey wants to discuss youth homelessness, crime prevention and education alternatives.

Nelson Leon, Logan Central Qld

22-year-old Nelson is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Queensland and works as an Employment Consultant at Sarina Russo Job Access. He is an active volunteer with sporting organisations within his community, including the Murriland Boxing Program and as a scout for an Indigenous scholarship/development program linked to the Australian Rugby League. Nelson is a regular participant at Indigenous and youth forums and he has been acting as a mentor to young Indigenous men in his community. At NIYLG, Nelson wants to discuss education, employment, training, cultural development and sport and recreation.

Shannean Mawn, Roma QLD

Shannean, 19, is employed by the Queensland Department of Health. She is actively involved with the young people in her community through activities organised by the Roma Town Council, Queensland Health and the Roma Police. She plays basketball and netball and was a member of the steering committee for the development of her local skate park. Shannean wants to increase the opportunities and alternatives available to young Indigenous people from rural and remote areas.

Jessica Munn, Slippy Downs QLD

Jessica is a 19-year-old university student, studying Sport and Exercise Science. She has been an Ambassador for the National Indigenous Literacy and Numeracy Program and a member of the selection panel for the Queensland Youth Advisory Committee. Jessica was a member of the National Youth Roundtable 2000, where she highlighted the lack of access to sporting facilities for young people living in rural and remote areas. She is a talented sportswoman who enjoys swimming, netball and water polo. The issues Jessica wants to discus at NIYLG include strategies to ensure Indigenous young people understand their culture, increasing participation in sport, and increasing school retention rates.

Luke Penrith, Wagga Wagga NSW

Luke, 20, is a Field Officer with the Central Southern Aboriginal Legal Service in Wagga Wagga. He is also studying for a diploma in National Indigenous Legal Studies at Tranby College, Sydney. He is the chairperson of the Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Youth Group and the Binaal Billa regional representative on the Aboriginal Youth Justice Advisory Network. He is an active sportsman and he enjoys basketball, Australian Rules, touch football and golf. At NIYLG, Luke hopes to discuss law and justice, drug and alcohol issues and Indigenous unemployment.

John Rawnsley, Malak NT

22-year-old John is currently studying for a combined degree in Law and Indigenous Studies at the Northern Territory University. In 2001, he was a member of the NT Chief Minister’s Round Table for Young Territorians and was convenor of the Bullying and Harassment working group. In 2002, he established the Yurwang Indigenous Law Student Society at the Australian National University and he is now working towards establishing a national organisation to represent Indigenous law students across the country. At NIYLG, John wants to discuss ways of empowering Indigenous youth, and health and education issues.

Des’ree Shepherd, Charters Towers QLD

Des’ree, 23, is the youngest member of the ATSIC Regional Council in Townsville. She is a young mother who is actively involved in her community in roles such as Chairman of the Charters Towers Community Development Employment Projects Committee (CDEP) and as a member of the Charters Towers Sports and Recreation Board NAIDOC Committee. In 2001, Des’ree helped establish CDEP in Charters Towers after she became concerned at the low employment rate within her community. As a result of her efforts, the Charters Towers CDEP now provides employment for 50 participants. Des’ree wants to use NIYLG to encourage youth empowerment and to address service delivery by government departments to Indigenous Youth.

Jade Wilson, Port Augusta SA

18-year-old Jade works at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. She is active in her community as a member of her local ASSPA committee and the Port Augusta Youth Centre Committee. Jade was concerned about the amount of vandalism in her town and the lack of positive activities for young people and, as a result, she began organising youth discos, which are now averaging 150 participants each night. She also coaches junior softball for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people. Jade has been awarded the South Australian Regional Youth of the Year and the Port Augusta NAIDOC Youth of the Year. Jade wants to use NIYLG to encourage young people in the Port Augusta area to become involved in community events.

Warrick Wright, Cardiff NSW

Warrick, 22, is currently employed as a Project Officer for Youloe-Ta Indigenous Association. He has been active in his community as a director of a Community Development Employment Project program and as a regional representative for his Aboriginal Land Council. He is currently a member of the ATSIC Regional Youth Advisory Committee and the youngest director of his local Aboriginal Medical Centre. He is passionate about using NIYLG to continue to be an advocate for the Indigenous Youth in his community.