Fifty Indigenous youth parliamentarians are on their way home following the National Indigenous Youth Parliament held in Canberra.
The week-long program included a two-day parliament in the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, meetings with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and Members of Parliament, a reception at Government House, a special parliamentary reception with campaigners from the 1967 referendum and the families of the Mabo plaintiffs and a visit to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.
The Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and Members of Parliament were generous with their time and encouragement of the young leaders.
At a reception at Government House, the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), reflected on defining moments for Indigenous Australians and the people who dedicated their lives to their beliefs, for what is right, fair and just. He urged the youth parliamentarians to be the new generation of fine leaders, of inspirational Australians.
"You are here because you are smart and talented—full of energy, and zeal and potential. You are here to learn, to develop your potential and experience things that very few of your peers will," His Excellency said.
"But with all this potential and opportunity comes a responsibility, to use it well, to help make the next ‘great leap forward’. To pick up where others might have left off. To be the new generation of fine leaders, of inspirational Australians. So this week, when you return to your families and communities, think about what you believe in, and what you want to do.
"Remind yourselves of all the things Indigenous Australians have achieved, the great strides that have been made for equality, recognition, reconciliation and justice. Remind yourselves of how great our democratic processes and traditions are—despite their drawbacks and their foibles.
"And then resolve to make your mark because Australia needs you."
At the opening ceremony of the youth parliament, held last weekend, the Electoral Commissioner, Tom Rogers said meaningful participation in the electoral process is an important step in Indigenous Australians taking responsibility for their futures and holding all levels of government to account for their performance in Indigenous affairs.
“Strengthening leadership among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a critical component of Closing the Gap. This is the essence of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament,” Mr Rogers said.
To arrange an interview with a participant contact Pieta Horgan: