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Youth Congress brings future leaders together
One hundred young members of The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples have converged on Sydney to help set the National Congress's agenda in June 2012.
Members of the Youth Congress debated the big issues affecting young Indigenous people and learned media, advocacy and campaigning skills they could use back in their own communities.
And according to attendees, the Youth Congress gave participants fresh ideas on how to deal with the issues facing young Indigenous people.
"The great thing about the Youth Congress is that we all have different passions and goals and we're feeding each other ideas to reach those goals," Kimberley Benjamin, a Baardi woman from Broome in Western Australia, said.
"What the Youth Congress is doing is increasing our leadership skills and giving us the confidence to speak in public and build our own campaigns," she said.
Clint Wilson, an Adnyamathanha man from the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, agrees about the benefits of working closely with his fellow Youth Congress members.
"I think a lot of the time young Indigenous leaders become overwhelmed trying to accomplish too much but as a group we can focus step by step on what we want to achieve," Wilson said.
Wilson said employment is one of the key issues facing young Indigenous people in remote areas.
"One of my biggest frustrations is seeing a group of young Kooris enrolled in something like a Certificate in Horticulture but when they finish there's no real employment outcomes for them. We want more say in the type of training our young people do so that when jobs come up, for example, in the mines, they will be ready to fill those positions," he says.
Wilson and his colleagues have set up online social networks to continue swapping ideas and Benjamin said this was the highlight of the Youth Congress.
“These hundred blackfellas from all over Australia are now heading back to our home communities having made all these networks and we’ve got all our passions, and all we have to do is keep working together, keep having that contact, and the world’s our oyster,” she said.