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New forum launched to give young Kimberley Indigenous leaders a voice

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Aboriginal youth need to stand up to reverse the declining state of social justice in Australia's North West, according to the organiser of a young leaders group.

The first Empowered Young Leaders Kimberley Youth Gathering was held this week on Gooniyandi Country at a remote Kimberley community.

More than 50 Aboriginal youth aged 18-35 were encouraged to raise their concerns at the meeting hosted as part of a series of AGM's held at Kupartiya Community for the Kimberley Land Council.

West Kimberley Empowered Young Leaders Coordinator Toni Wajayi Skeen said the youth forum was a long time coming.

"When you're constantly being talked to and being told about your community issues you feel as thought you don't have a say in decisions that affect yourself and community, we intended this space to be solution based," she said.

"We are asking for young people to have a seat at the table, to make their own decisions and create their own voice.

"In terms of the social justice issues here, it has gotten worse.

"We hear this term that young people are the leaders of tomorrow, but what are we doing today to make sure they are the leaders of tomorrow."

The forum consisted of a full day of Kimberley Youth discussing, drawing and sharing their concerns within their communities.

Students from Fitzroy Valley District High School attended to share their thoughts about the change they want to see in their schools and community.

Banjima man Cody Butler said hearing their experience reminded him of his frustation in school.

Kimberley MLA Divina D'Anna said youth voices needed to be heard.

"This space is important in elevating their voice, the youth are the future and are the next generation of fighters for change," she said.

"I believe our fight for our place in society is a shared fight and these young people are here to carry the visions of the old people in the new world.

"My hope is about strengthening our families and voice for a stronger generation, young people do have a say in shaping their future."

The Empowered Young Leaders program is going on a Kimberley Roadshow to hear what young people have to say.

Story by Safiah Rind


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