National advocacy critical for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander youth

MEDIA RELEASE: Today 15 young Aboriginal and Torres Islander leaders from around Australia will meet in Sydney to establish a national plan for self-representation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people – the first-of-its-kind.

On the eve of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) is funding the first ever National Youth Indigenous Roundtable as the initial step towards creating a national platform from which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people can represent themselves on the big issues facing Indigenous youth today.

AYAC’s Executive Director, Andrew Cummings, said the meeting will be a unique opportunity to grow a truly youth-led advocacy movement amongst Indigenous young people.

“This roundtable is monumental because there is no other place where Aboriginal young people can decide for themselves what issues they want to speak up about and be supported to do this at a national level,” he said.

Representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people on urgent national issues has not always reflected their needs and concerns.

“We hope to be able to establish a group where advocacy is done by Indigenous young people and for young people, and be able to speak up about what is actually important to us,” 20-year-old Indigenous youth advocate and roundtable participant, Blake Tatafu, said.

Meeting at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in Redfern, the roundtable aims to address the existing gaps in the area of advocacy for the 12-26 age group, develop a national model of Indigenous youth representation, and begin to engage key organisations to build a coalition of support for the final proposal.

The event will be entirely led by the young delegates, who represent a broad spectrum of experience and talent from around Australia.

AYAC’s Executive Director, Andrew Cummings said, “We are providing the opportunity to start the conversation. Together with their peers, each of these young people can strengthen their commitment to building a space where Indigenous young people can share ideas about self-representation at a national level.

“It is important that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are supported to work towards the changes they believe will make the biggest difference to redressing Indigenous disadvantage, and will champion Indigenous leadership and success,” he said.

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The Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) is the national voice for young people and the youth affairs sector. AYAC’s vision is for an Australia in which young people are informed, empowered, encouraged and supported to participate in their communities.

Blake Tatafu is a Dhungutti/Wiradjiri man, involved in indigenous politics across a range of fora. Blake is the first Aboriginal Young Ambassador for UNICEF as well as the Indigenous Student President and Representative at the University of Western Sydney, where he studies full time.

Media enquiries: Maia Giordano, Deputy Director (Young People), Australian Youth Affairs Coalition

P: 02 9212 0500 | M: 0435 496 494