National Indigenous Youth Parliament elects first female Prime Minister

Updated: 26 May 2017

Aretha Stewart-Brown, aged 16 from Williamstown in Melbourne, is the elected youth Prime Minister for the National Indigenous Youth Parliament 2017.

Aretha fought off 17 contenders for the prime ministership with a spirited campaign speech and the promise to faithfully and energetically represent the parliament.

Aretha is a Gumbaynggirr woman and is currently in Year 11. In 2015 Aretha attended the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in Turkey as the Indigenous representative for the Victorian Government.

Aretha is active in NAIDOC activities at her school and has taken on leadership roles in the community. She acknowledges that these opportunities were not available to older members of her family and she strives to be a role model and to make her family and community proud.

Lane Brookes, aged 22 from Roma in south-west Queensland, is the elected Leader of the Opposition.

Lane’s nation is the Mandandanji and Kangoulu in the western districts of Queensland. He has forged a strong reputation in his home town of Roma, where he has organised activities that raised over $50,000 to benefit local people as part of the annual charity rugby league All Stars game.

Lane was motivated to encourage community members to strive to look after each other and those less fortunate. He sees it as a way to enable youth volunteers to develop pride in their culture and community.

In 2016 Lane was awarded Young Legend of the Year for Australian Tidy Towns on the strength of his commitment and community spirit.

Lane lives on his traditional land and aspires to be the youngest councillor, first Aboriginal Mayor for Roma and Member of Parliament for Maranoa.

The NIYP will be held over two days (27-28 May) in the former House of Representatives chamber at Old Parliament House Canberra. The parliament will debate Bills on:

  • Restorative Intervention for Indigenous Young Offenders
  • Indigenous Youth Mental Health
  • Improving Access to Alcohol & Drug Rehabilitation Services in Rural and Remote Areas Bill
  • Indigenous Human Rights and Race Discrimination

In the Adjournment debate the youth parliamentarians will speak on issues important to their community.

The parliament will be presided over by Federal Members of Parliament, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon Tony Smith MP.

Editor’s note:

Contact Pieta Horgan 0421 335 784 to arrange an interview with participants.