National Indigenous Youth Parliament 2014 - Member profiles

Updated: 11 June 2014

NSW

Blake Tatafu – aged 21 – Tuggerawong

Blake is currently living and attending university in Western Sydney, and is involved with several youth and Indigenous organisations. He is President of the University of Western Sydney Indigenous Student Collective (which he established), a Young Healer for Healing Foundation and the Indigenous Youth Agency member for Headspace Australia. Blake has a significant presence amongst the western Sydney Aboriginal community. He is motivated and passionate about making a difference, and is described as a role model to many young Aboriginal men.

Taunoa Bugmy – aged 19 – Broken Hill

Taunoa is from remote NSW. Taunoa has extensive experience in local sporting competitions and has often captained teams. Taunoa is part of the Murdi Paaki Young Leaders Program, with strong ties to the local community. She has organised NAIDOC celebrations and takes part in the Broken Hill Community Working Party. Taunoa is a confident public speaker and addressed a ministerial taskforce in Broken Hill about Aboriginal education. She works among her community and believes that making a change to one person's life has a positive effect on many others.

Geoff Maher Jnr – aged 16 – Primbee

Geoff demonstrates great passion for community engagement and leadership. He is articulate and interested in making a difference in his local area in the Illawarra and improving the lives of Aboriginal people both locally and nationally. Of his own initiative, Geoff proposed an Indigenous youth leadership program in his school, for which he secured $3 000 funding from the Sydney ICC. Geoff is interested in how politics and the Australian democratic system impact the lives of Australia's First People. In 2013, he was selected to attend the Illawarra Aboriginal Leadership Conference as a youth representative. Geoff is passionate and committed to drive change for his generation.

Rebecca Brown – aged 24 – Hamilton South

Rebecca, a Worimi woman from Foster, is strongly involved with a number of Aboriginal organisations in the Hunter. Rebecca coordinated the Hunter region's first cadetship program for Aboriginal early childhood students with the University of Newcastle and there is potential for the program to expand to other university disciplines. Rebecca works with the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, where her degree in Social Science is put to good use in the Community and Reform Team. Rebecca is passionate about her community and is focussed on making a difference.

Angel Towney – aged 22 – Bathurst

Angel is currently studying at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, where she is the Indigenous representative on the Student Board. Angel created an Indigenous student body, an initiative to be expanded across all CSU campuses. She coaches in martial arts, a field where she has excelled at an international level. Angel believes it is important to work on changing attitudes in her community towards education, health and wellbeing, and crime and violence. She wants to use the lessons from NIYP to be a voice for Indigenous people and her community.

Bianca Cruse – aged 20 – Lansvale

Bianca Cruse has a love of learning, which drives her to be a strong advocate for the people who cannot voice their own opinions. She believes that education and sharing are some of the most important things in life. Bianca works for Caritas Australia on the First Australians program, which has given her insight into issues Indigenous Australians face. Bianca is a highly valued member of the First Australians program. She is passionate about the marginalisation of her fellow First Australians and has a particular interest in advocacy.

Victoria

Lucy Rose Doolan – aged 23 – Mildura

Lucy is currently working with the YMCA. Lucy manages the Mildura Koori emerging leaders program and coordinates the Local Koori Youth Council. Lucy is the youth representative on the Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Community and the local Aboriginal Justice Action Committee. Lucy is interested in learning about parliamentary process and developing her leadership skills. Lucy worked for the AEC as an Indigenous voter information officer for the 2013 federal election in the Division of Mallee. Lucy's long–term aspirations include standing for parliament.

Kristian King – aged 17 – Bairnsdale

Kristian is enrolled at Bairnsdale Secondary College and wants to help change the stereotype of Indigenous people. He aspires to be a politician and help shape the laws that could make a difference. Kristian's community involvement includes placement at East Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperative and assisting at significant Indigenous events, including Mr and Miss NAIDOC and the Deadly in Gippsland Spirit conference. Kristian hopes to gain extra confidence and encouragement to be involved in the Youth Advisory Committee.

Kezlee Pickett – aged 18 – Heywood

Kezlee attends Heywood District and Secondary School; and is interested in learning and seeking inspiration from others on leadership. Kezlee has organised NAIDOC events at Wind-Mara Co-operative and been involved in planning youth based events. Kezlee strives to be a role model for the younger generation. The availability of local youth services and programs is an important issue important for Kezlee.

Jayden Crozier – aged 17 – Healesville

Jayden attends Healesville High School and is interested in learning more about the current political landscape. Issues important to him are Indigenous health and education. In the Healesville community, Jayden supports events, which are run by Indigenous organisations in the area. Jayden aspires to a career in the political field and would like to study politics in a Bachelor of Arts.

Terry Atkinson – aged 21 – Hughesdale

Terry is currently employed at Novotel Melbourne in St Kilda. Terry hopes to learn about politics, how as a young Indigenous man he can participate and how to get youth actively involved. Terry has a passion for current social issues and feels education and mental health issues are important. Terry is actively involved with Indigenous events between work commitments. He has attended the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement phase three and is looking forward to phase four.

Kaisee Neutert – aged 17 – Bandiana

Kaisee attends Wodonga Secondary College and is passionate about finding solutions to issues such as the wellbeing of gay and transgendered youth and mental health. Kaisee was a participant in the Foundation of Young Australians and is involved as a mentor for other teenagers. Kaisee recently received the Indigenous Youth Leader Award 2014 and gained a Wannik Scholarship for education.

Queensland

Kia Yeatman – aged 18 – Yarrabah

Kia currently works for the Cape York Institute and is a graduate of the Higher Expectation Program, having completed an administrative apprenticeship. Kia has been involved in the Cape York Leader's Program since 2010 and is on the steering committee, which provides leadership and education development scholarships for people from Cape York, Yarrabah and Palm Island. In 2012, Kia led the first NAIDOC celebrations at her school, which is now celebrated annually. Kia's family have been involved in local and regional politics and her long-term aspiration is to enter politics. She is passionate about issues affecting her community, including school attendance, youth suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and job opportunities in her region.

Mikaela French – aged 17 – Cairns

Mikaela is a Torres Strait Islander from the Cairns suburb of Kanimbla Heights. Mikaela has a strong political interest and believes insight into how parliament operates will assist her journey as an Indigenous advocate. Mikaela is a keen advocate for Indigenous people and passionate about improving opportunities and fighting for recognition in the Constitution. Her goal is to gain entry into Law at the University of Queensland and pursue studies in Native Title or political law.

Elijah Douglas – aged 17 – Doomadgee

Elijah is from the Gulf town of Doomadgee. He has a strong connection to his community, is proud of his heritage and cultural knowledge, which he continues to practice. Elijah is at boarding school in Mt Isa, where he is Indigenous school captain. In 2013, Elijah was selected by the Premier's ANZAC Award Committee to participate as one of five Queensland students to travel to Gallipoli and the Western Front for ANZAC Day ceremonies. Elijah's goal is to get a good education, and then go back to his community with a qualification to help his people. Elijah attends local health clinics each week to gain hands–on experience that he will take back to his community.

Myiesha Yoelu – aged 16 – Umagico

Myiesha is from Umagico (Northern Peninsula Area). Currently boarding at Ipswich Girls' Grammar in Brisbane, Myiesha was selected to represent her school and the Indigenous community at the Indigenous Australian Constitutional Convention and the QATSIF Scholarship breakfast. She is completing a Cert II in Services Consultancy as part of her traineeship with the ANZ bank. Myiesha is committed to gaining qualifications in law that will enable her to address the disparity in participation and outcomes for all Australians. Ultimately, she would like to use her education to conduct a youth empowerment business for Indigenous adolescents in the Cape region.

Jarmarley Willet – aged 17 – Charleville

Jarmarley is from Charleville and is currently attending Saint Brendan's College in Yeppoon. He aspires to get involved in the process of government to drive change in his community. Jarmarley was one of 50 students chosen to attend the National Youth Leadership Academy's National Gathering Many Voices, One Future. He is very passionate in his beliefs and the founder of the national climate change campaign Don't Wait Till It's Too Late. Through this initiative, Jarmarley was invited to attend and promote his campaign at the Foundation of Young Australians Youth Summit held in Sydney.

Yama Banu – aged 17– Townsville

Yama is from the Townsville suburb of Kelso. He is extremely passionate about improving the lives of Indigenous people particularly closing the gap in Indigenous education. He is currently working on a campaign to promote education as part of his involvement with the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy. Yama is an active member of the Indigenous community, both in and out of school, seeking to gain whatever experience he can to help his people. Currently a school Indigenous captain, Yama also participated in the Achieving Results Through Indigenous Education program and in 2013 was selected to go to Canberra for the Murra Mullangari, Pathways, Alive and Well Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Development Program.

Torres Strait Islands

Rebekah Ketchell – aged 16 – Dauan Island

Rebekah is from Dauan Island in the Torres Strait and is currently a student at St Saviour's College in Toowoomba. Rebekah is involved with the Indigenous youth group Waddup and participates in her school's Indigenous program. She mentors younger Indigenous students and was involved with the Indigenous Table Top trek. Rebekah is committed to her culture. She believes it important to maintain local traditions and customs and she wants to work to ensure traditional values are recognised by the wider community.

Tanisha Pabai – aged 17 – Boigu Island

Tanisha's academic and community achievements include the 2010 Walter Nona Scholarship, Excellence in Language and Culture 2010–2013, Torres Strait Youth Award 2012, Cultural Exchange – Cambridge 2013 and the International Women's Day Award – Youth Category 2013 and 2014. Tanisha is Kazi Meta Boarding College Captain 2014, and Tagai Secondary School Traditional Dance coach and captain. Tanisha participated in the Indigenous Leaders of Tomorrow program. She received multiple awards recognising her contribution to her community for teaching language and culture, including Youth Category International Women's Day Awards in 2013 and 2014. Tanisha is currently studying a Certificate III in Education, before she commences an undergraduate degree in Education at James Cook University.

Western Australia

Timu King – aged 17– Austin Downs Station

Timu is a highly motivated, influential role model for his community. Timu has gained work experience through the Cue Shire offices and is acknowledged for his motivation and leadership in the community. Timu is interested in regional and remote issues and passionate about communicating the issues his community face in the Shire of Cue and Austin Downs.

Kareemah McKenzie – aged 17 – Broome / Derby

Kareemah is a year 11 student and studying Certificate II and III at TAFE. Kareemah is a volunteer at the local Beagle Bay Breakfast Program, preparing nutritional breakfasts. She assists at Budulah Community in the community development program with production of funeral booklets. Kareemah has a growing interest in politics and a passion to broaden her horizons for advocating change at school and in the community and she wants a greater understanding of how parliament works. Kareemah is passionate about working towards providing a safe community through more policing and community leadership. Other issues of importance are affordable housing and activities to increase youth participation.

Mark Donovan – aged 19 – Perth

Mark works at the State Department of Premier and Cabinet. Mark has successfully completed a Certificate I in Leadership. He is passionate about creating change for youth and hopes to build on his skills to continue working with young people in developing programs and services.

Emma Garlett – aged 20 – Perth

Emma is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce at Curtin University and intends to go on to complete Juris Doctor. Emma is actively involved in Jobs Australia Indigenous Youth Leadership Program and is a member of the Young and Well CRC – First Peoples Advisory Council. Emma has a strong interest in politics, health and education and has a passion for speaking up and making a difference for young Indigenous people and feels strongly about being a positive role model for her community. Emma is actively involved in various programs and committees at university and in her community. Emma has successfully completed a Diploma of Business and through the leadership program completed a Certificate IV in Community Development.

Jenna Woods – aged 23 – Perth

Jenna is a young Indigenous woman from Gosnells in Perth. Jenna is passionate about politics, social justice and issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, and domestic violence. Jenna is currently studying a double major in Community Development and Politics and International Studies. Jenna has held leadership roles in the Aboriginal community, at Murdoch University and through employment. Jenna is an active member of Kulbardi Aboriginal Community Centre Youth Advisory Committee and was involved as mentor on the AIME mentoring program.

Rachel Visser – aged 25 – Madelay

Rachel is a Senior Project Officer with the Aboriginal Workforce Development Centre at the Department of Training and Workforce Development and studying a Bachelor of Social Work at Curtin University.

With the Aboriginal Workforce Development Centre, Rachel visits schools to advocate the importance of education and employment and assist Indigenous students transition from school to further education or employment. Rachel organises youth forums to support young people to stay at school and transition to meaningful and secure employment.

The issues important to Rachel are youth suicide and closing the gap in Indigenous employment, health and education.

South Australia

April Barry – 18 - Adelaide

April is from Alice Springs and currently studying at Immanuel College in Adelaide. She is in her third year of an Indigenous Youth Leadership Program. April is keen to learn about democracy and to have a say in Australia's future. April has represented her school on several occasions at special functions and given the acknowledgement to country in English and Pitjantjatjara. April wants to encourage young Indigenous people to stand up and speak for their rights and beliefs.

Audrey Inkamala – aged 18 – Northgate

Audrey is currently a student with the Wiltja Program at Windsor Gardens Vocational School. She is involved with several communities, in addition to her own community – Engawala. Audrey is interested in learning how governments work and what they can do. She wants to learn more about politics and the opportunities it provides to debate the issues and solve the problems that affect people. Audrey wants to be a role model for young people and gain confidence in public speaking to help prevent and solve problems in her community and to make positive change.

Fredrike Owens – aged 21 – Adelaide

Fredrike currently works for the Adelaide City Council. He has completed a traineeship and graduate program under the Council's Aboriginal Employment Program. Fredrike is passionate about politics and feels it is important that Aboriginal people have opportunities to have their voices heard and to influence policies that are important to them. Fredrike is an active member of the Aboriginal community in Adelaide. He has been a member of the NAIDOC SA Committee and has organised event planning for the Lord Mayor's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flag Raising Ceremony.

Arrin Hazelbane – aged 21 – Largs Bay

Arrin is currently studying a Bachelor of Law at the University of Adelaide. His aim is to pursue a career in politics. Arrin has a strong connection to his community and intends to give back to the communities that made such a fundamental contribution to his growth as a young man. He attended a National Indigenous Legal Conference, is a member of the Watpa Meyuuna Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Law Student Society and the Indigenous Law Student Mentoring Program.

Laura Hardbottle – aged 17 – Quorn

Laura is currently a student at Quorn Area School. She is the elected Indigenous member of the Student Representative Council. Laura wants to improve her leadership skills and gain a better appreciation of the processes involved in creating and applying laws, especially laws relating to the community. A priority for Laura is the provision of additional social services in communities to support families in need. Laura believes she has the drive to make a difference and the willingness to 'think outside the square' to make this happen.'

Tasmania

Angela Cantwell – 17 – Hobart

Angela's home country is Cape York, but she has relocated to Tasmania via Western Australia and is very involved in the Tasmanian Aboriginal community in the Hobart area. During school holidays, Angela volunteers in the Aboriginal Holiday Care program and participates in cultural and sports events throughout the year. A keen school debater, Angela is excited about participating in National Indigenous Youth Parliament and increasing her understanding of how government works. She is passionate about environmental issues, including where tourism and environmental outcomes clash, and concerned about issues of youth unemployment in Tasmania.

Keryn Gane – aged 17 – Huon Valley

Keryn is a year 12 student at Guildford Young College, where she shares her cultural knowledge with new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Keryn delivers Acknowledgements of Country in both English and Palawakani at college and house assemblies. Travelling over one hour to school from her home in the Huon Valley, Keryn is committed to completing year 12 and pursuing a tertiary education. In year 11 Keryn undertook three pre–tertiary subjects and achieved outstanding results. Keryn is an age champion competitor for Tasmania in equestrian.

Nicola Ingram – aged 16 – Hobart

Nicola is a proud young Wiradjuri woman who is very interested and active in Tasmanian Aboriginal issues. She is passionate about a referendum on Indigenous recognition, law and politics and their impact on Aboriginal peoples. Nicola formed an Indigenous student group at her school to encourage other young Indigenous students to speak up on social justice issues. Nicola's goal is to make a positive impact and follow in the footsteps of her (late) doctor father, Wiradjuri man Dr Ross Ingram who is commemorated by the University of Newcastle Dr Ross Ingram Memorial Prize for Essays in Indigenous health.

Ella Maher – aged 18 – Launceston

Ella is interested in law and politics and wants to use her interests to make positive change. Ella is very involved in her local Launceston Aboriginal community, and plans to use and improve her debating skills on a national stage on matters of both local and national importance to Aboriginal people. Ella participated in the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy in 2011 and shares her learnings with local youth in her area.

Caleb Nichols–Mansell – aged 18 – Burnie

Caleb is an active young Aboriginal community member from north–west Tasmania. Caleb is involved in a range of organisations including Aboriginal (TAC), local government (Burnie Youth Making Change Around Burnie), non–government Pinnacle Foundation, and student networks developed while studying business. Caleb is the first Tasmanian to be awarded a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Intersex and Queer Scholarship by the Pinnacle Foundation.

Rachelle Maluga – aged 20 – Launceston

Rachelle is a member of the well–respected Maluga family with close links to the Maynard family group. She enthusiastically participates in community activities, when at school and now as a young adult working at Colony 47, where she is the first contact for people in the community seeking assistance for a range of issues including housing and legal matters. With family links to the Maynard family group, Rachelle is very keen to work locally to make positive change. She is passionate about changing the constitution and removing laws that discriminate against Aboriginal people.

ACT

Tamika Townsend – aged 22 – Canberra

Tamika is currently employed by Reconciliation Australia where she engages with corporate, government and not–for–profit partners in her capacity as Reconciliation Action Plan Project Officer. She has a strong interest in the Closing the Gap agenda, in particular, in relation to health and wellbeing, education, justice and incarceration, and Native Title. Tamika is looking to the NIYP to help develop her public speaking and leadership skills. She also wants to learn more about government, engage with politicians and likeminded Indigenous Australians on important issues and discuss how to bring about real change. Tamika is a strong, proud young Aboriginal leader who dedicates her time and efforts to building relationships, respect and trust between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Tyrell Kamira Sams – aged 19 – Canberra

Tyrell is studying towards a Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees in politics and international affairs at the Australian National University. He has received numerous awards and widespread recognition for leadership, and was named ACT NAIDOC Youth of the Year in 2012. He participated in the UN mock Assembly and attended the World Indigenous Peoples Education Conference (WiPCE) in Peru in 2011. This year Tyrell was invited to submit a paper for the WiPCE. Tyrell would like to see change in the negative stereotypes of Indigenous Australians and boost recognition of the status and traditions of Indigenous Australians.

Lyric Hearn - aged 16 – Canberra

Lyric is currently in year 10 at Canberra Girls Grammar School. Lyric is active in her school community where she is involved in the school's Indigenous Focus Group, and a role model to young boarders at the school. Lyric is active in the Solid Young Sistas and Brothas leadership and mentoring program for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. She is passionate about raising awareness of the issues prevalent in Indigenous communities to bring about change, as well as being an ambassador for reconciliation and social justice.

Larissa Woosup – aged 17 – Canberra

Larissa is currently in year 11 at Canberra Girls Grammar School. She is an active member of her school's Indigenous Focus Group and participates in Solid Young Sistas and Brothas, which provides leadership and mentoring to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids. She was recently elected assistant head of house by peers and school staff. Issues of concern for Larissa are the limited access to health and education services, especially for remote communities.

Connor Davy – aged 18 – Canberra

Connor is a young Anmatyerre man from Central Desert, Alice Springs, now living in Canberra. He is currently completing a traineeship with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association in business administration and IT. Connor is interested in law and business. He is passionate about issues relating to Indigenous education, as well as health and wellbeing. Connor wants to be a role model for the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and strives to set a positive example for young people.

Michael Ohrin – aged 22 – Canberra

Michael is a young Wiradjuri man currently employed at CSIRO in Canberra, where he is completing a traineeship in human resource management. Michael recently completed a Certificate II in Leadership with the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre and is interested in further study at university. Michael's concerns relate to issues affecting low socio–economic communities, including educational attainment, drug abuse, unemployment and high incarceration rates. Michael's goal is to be a role model for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Northern Territory

Ineke Wallis – aged 19 – Nhulunbuy

Ineke is a highly motivated, influential role model for young Indigenous people in the East Arnhem region. She currently works as governance and executive administration officer for the East Arnhem Regional Council in Nhulunbuy where she provides a vital link between the council and community representatives. Ineke is actively involved in community activities and enjoys teaching dance where she encourages local children to be active and healthy. Ineke wants the opportunity to communicate on issues of importance to her community in East Arnhem Land. Ineke aspires to be an elected representative of her people.

Emma Kellaway – aged 16 – Darwin

Emma is a year 12 student at Taminmin College with a growing interest in government and a passion for advocating change, such as closing the gap on Indigenous health. Emma was previously involved in the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy in Sydney where she focused on campaigns to address current issues for her community. She was one of 11 students from the NT selected for IMPACT, a three-year program for young Indigenous leaders. Emma is a strong, positive role model and wants to make a difference in her community.

Anthony Lew–Fatt – aged 24 – Darwin

Anthony is of Southern Arrente, Luritja and Gurindji decent who believes that, with the right tools, anything can be achieved. Anthony currently works in the Government Education and Community Section of the National Australia Bank (NAB) and was the first person to complete the NAB Indigenous traineeship program. Anthony has represented the NT in AFL and rugby. He has completed a coaching certificate and is dedicated to coaching young people in AFL. Anthony is passionate about creating change for Indigenous people and hopes to help build his community and encourage his people to live in both contemporary and traditional ways.

Colin Puruntatameri – aged 18 – Yuelamu Community

Colin grew up in the Tiwi Islands and Yuendumu. Colin is very community and culturally minded and can speak five languages. He is currently completing high school and intends to study music and law. He is passionate about recognition of Indigenous people in the Constitution. Colin participates in school plays and was the lead in a community production that told the story of the Stolen Generations. He regularly visits the local retirement village to help prepare food and sing to the residents.

Michael McMahon – aged 20 – Darwin

Michael is a young man who has a strong interest in politics and aspires to become a politician. He has a passion for speaking up and making a difference for young Indigenous people and feels strongly about being a positive role model for his community. Michael participated in Youth Parliament NT 2013 and was appointed to one of the key leadership positions as the Youth Chief Minister. Michael currently works as a youth worker for the YMCA of the Top End. He would like to see more young Indigenous people educated, employed and standing up for their rights.

Rachel Geier – aged 17 – Darwin

Rachel is a proud Wagiman woman working towards a future in the law and sees the NIYP as an excellent opportunity to increase her political knowledge. Rachel is a student at O'Loughlin Catholic College and is determined to be the first to complete Year 12 in her immediate family. Rachel is passionate and driven to support disadvantaged people and always puts others before herself. She has a good understanding of the difference between Aboriginal lore and mainstream law and sees the impact it has on society today, such as substance abuse, payback in community and homelessness. At every opportunity, at school or in her community, Rachel represents her culture with great pride.