The Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Aboriginal Leadership Cross-Cultural Solutions program was developed to create and support young Aboriginal leaders in WA, with a particular focus on increasing their participation in their communities.
Twelve Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students from Narrogin, Karratha and Girrawheen senior high schools participated in the Aboriginal Leaders Cross-Cultural Solutions program in 2018.
Students were engaged in skill development sessions in their school communities and attended a three-day workshop in Perth where they met with key government, non-government, business and community sector stakeholders, including the Governor of Western Australia.
Students presented to school staff, local services and community stakeholders on the key issues they identified as impacting young people in their local community as well as the solutions they devised to help overcome these issues. This provided an opportunity for the students to connect directly with stakeholders and continue to advocate important issues.
In 2014 the Commissioner undertook a consultation with 1,271 Aboriginal children and young people across WA to find out their thoughts on the issues that were most important to them and their hopes for the future.
They said that respect, relationships, learning from Elders and being a good role model were important aspects of Aboriginal culture. The Aboriginal Leadership Cross-Cultural Solutions program evolved from listening to what these young people said.
The program aimed to create and support more young Aboriginal leaders in communities across WA, with particular focus on increasing their participation in decision making about programs and initiatives.
The Commissioner selected three schools to participate in the program - Narrogin SHS, Karratha SHS and Girrawheen SHS - to ensure there was representation from both northern and southern regional areas as well as metropolitan WA.
The students met several times throughout the year, including a three-day session in Perth.
The structure and outcomes for each session are outlined on the Young Aboriginal Leaders project page.
The Aboriginal Leadership Cross-Cultural Solutions program provided a valuable opportunity for young people develop their confidence and leadership capacity.
Through the program, the students discussed and developed their ideas on the:
- biggest concerns in their communities
- opportunities they would like to see for young people in their communities
- importance of roles models
- the role of young people, services and community members to address the issues of concern.
Read more on the ideas developed by the students here.
Students completed an evaluation following each session to share what they had learnt and what they gained from participating in the program. The quotes from students below highlight some of their key learnings and feedback.
“I have learnt that Aboriginal people feel very, very strongly about their culture and the problems that affect their young very negatively.”
“I have learned that we must work together and that our voices have to be listened to and that we must set high expectations and rise to meet them.”
“[I learnt] that we have a right to be heard and there a lot of issues in our community that we can help get heard.”
“There needs to be Aboriginal led and run organisations to make change and empower our mob and give knowledge to grassroot mobs.”
“Meeting people at the Forum was a great opportunity; adults really listened to what we had to say, our views on what we want for the future.”
“The thing I liked most about today is how my words were listened to and acknowledged.”
“[I enjoyed] Going to the forum to meet Aboriginal leaders from around Australia and having the honour to listen to what they had to say.”
“I enjoyed the fact that people who contribute to the community took time out of their [day] to listen to what we had to say.”
“It was an amazing opportunity and helped with my leadership skills and confidence and I think more people should have that chance.”
The feedback from students demonstrates how important it is for young people to be given the opportunity to share their views and ideas and create solutions to the issues they identify as important in their community. The program presents a model other agencies or groups could use to develop young community leaders.
The Commissioner will be visiting the three participating schools in the first half of 2019 to follow up on the students’ leadership journeys.
He is particularly interested in hearing about any further activities students have undertaken with their school and community as a result of the program, and how the students have kept their communities and themselves accountable.
To learn more about the students involved in the project, read their profiles.