SPONSORED: MADALAH’s group of Emerging Leaders is celebrating the success of its first ever Youth Leadership Summit recently held on November 20 and 21.

The group all arrived at MADALAH HQ just before 9am on Friday November 20 alongside six strong MADALAH mentors and boarded the bus on route to Northam; prepared and ready for the huge weekend ahead.

We arrived at Northam’s state of the art cultural learning centre Bilya Koort Boodja to start proceedings with a lovely Welcome to Country by local Elder Deb Moody. We then went on a guided tour of the centre’s amazing museum exhibiting local Indigenous artefacts with tremendous cultural significance and information, which the group were so engrossed in and fascinated by.

It was absolutely essential for the group to pay their respects to the Traditional Owners of the land before they went out and took part in MADALAH’s Amazing Race challenge.

We had prepared an exciting and challenging Amazing Race that we thought might catch our young leaders off guard, but they were more than up for the challenge!

The Amazing Race was the perfect opportunity for our Emerging Leaders to display their leadership capabilities both as a group and as individuals.

They were divided evenly into two teams named after Ballardong Noongar names: Waakal (Rainbow Serpent) and Kaarda (Goanna); competing against each other to win the Youth Leadership Championship Shield.

The race was set up around the Avon River with a number of challenges along the way that required them to work together as a team to complete before they were able to continue to the finish line.

From brain busters to physical challenges their leadership skills were put to the test and not one person in the group would step down as they knew that they needed to work together to win and give it their all—even if they had to eat a whole jar of baby food!

Both teams gave it every effort but there had to be a winner, and that winner was team Kaarda! It was fantastic to see both teams very humble and respectful in both victory and defeat and we could tell it didn’t matter to them who won; they enjoyed themselves and learned more about not only themselves but each other too.

After a chance to recover and relax, we gave the students the opportunity to reflect and discuss leadership and what leadership means for our community.

An inspiring speech from mentor Jack Collard complemented by the other mentors opened the floor for the group to provide their thoughts and thank MADALAH for the support and opportunities they provide, particularly giving them the opportunity to be in the Emerging Leaders group.

Mentor Jack Collard speaking to the group. Photo supplied.

Bilya Koort Boodja then treated us to a ‘dance and didge’ workshop followed by a delicious meal created with traditional foods and spices from the area. Our leaders and mentors alike devoured this meal after such a mammoth day.

After our evening meal we headed to our accommodation at Muresk Institute 15 minutes out of Northam to unload and participate in a few more activities before bed.

A challenging quiz and Uno competition got the group back into their competitive mindsets, getting so competitive that two teams finished on a draw and the winner could only be decided by dance-off! The teams came together very quickly to devise some interesting dance routines.

The students then had their own time to talk and get to know each other before bed; a much-needed rest before the river walk the next day.

Dance and didge at Bilya Koort Boodja. Photo supplied.

On Saturday November 21 we were guided by Frank Davis around the Avon River, learning about the cultural significance of the river and its fauna with a few jokes and funny anecdotes to keep the students on their feet.

That concluded our engaging and successful weekend with a great group of young students who definitely outdid our expectations of young Emerging Leaders, so we packed up and headed back to Perth.

We would like to thank Bilya Koort Boodja for helping us learn about the Ballardong Noongar people and the cultural significance of the area.

We would also like to thank the students who attended and became our first ever group of Emerging Leaders and we commend them for their respectful manner and willingness to participate in everything that was asked of them.

It was beautiful to see the camaraderie and relationships built in this safe and inclusive space. Students gave their all during this summit and the leadership qualities they were chosen for really shone through.