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Indigenous youth to advise on excellence

On September 25, the Hon. Linda Burney, NSW Minister for Community Services and Minister for Women, officially announced the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence’s Youth Advisory Committee (NCIEYAC) reports Dorothy McRae-McMahon in the South Sydney Herald in November 2009.

The advisory committee is made up of 11 young people between the ages of 12 and 18 who live, work or go to school in the South Sydney area. All committee members were chosen “because they demonstrated a passion and enthusiasm for issues affecting young people in their communities and for their desire to have their voices heard on a national scale”.

Talking with two of the young people selected was inspiring in itself. Bianca Ceissman is 13 years old. Her people originally come from Coonabarabran and she now lives in Woolloomooloo and attends school at St Scholastica’s in Glebe.

She believes that 13 to 14 year-olds are often overlooked in favour of those regarded as “children” or “young people”. She wanted to have a voice for her age group and to participate in community life. She also particularly wanted to represent “non-sporty” leadership.

Bianca feels that this experience will add to her future, in that she will learn new skills from the rest of the group and find confidence in speaking out and having an influence for good changes. The most important hope she has for her people is that they will want to succeed in life and gain more ways of effectively putting forward their viewpoints.

In the end, she would like to be a lawyer and a public speaker.

Jacob Saunders is one of seven brothers and two sisters. His people come from the Taree and Kempsey area – the Birripi and Dunghutti people. He attends the Alexandria Park Community School and lives in St Peters. He is learning a lot by being an Aboriginal Trainee Indigenous Service Officer at Redfern Centrelink. He is also grateful to be part of the Aboriginal Men’s Group which has given him the experience of standing up and speaking before crowds of people.

He has many aims – to stop violence, crime, drug use and abuse and to generally help the Redfern community. He would like to show his people that there is more than they realise ahead of them, and to be a role model for that hope.

Jacob thinks being part of the NCIEYAC will mean that he will be meeting more people and that he will learn to believe that “little things may lead to big things”. His hopes for Indigenous people in general are that he can help create more opportunities for their employment, encourage better education and become “one mob standing together” who believe that “we can do it!”

May they and the other members of the new National Centre of Indigenous Excellence’s Youth Advisory Committee achieve their aims and feel the warm support of the South Sydney community!

Photo: Andrew Collis - The Youth Advisory Committee with Linda Burney and Sol Bellear