Young People want a better relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people

MEDIA RELEASE: A new survey has found the majority of young Australians (81%) have a strong desire to advance reconciliation—but less than half know how to go about it.

The ‘Yarn About Youth’ report, co-authored by Reconciliation Australia and the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, contains findings from the first ever national survey of young peoples’ attitudes to reconciliation.

Results indicate the majority of young people believe trust between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is low but 90% think the relationship is important.

Key findings:
90% think the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is important
80% think Australia is better off because we have many different cultures
67% rank their knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories as high
51% think the relationship is improving
35% think the relationship is good
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6% think that we trust each other

The report represents the views from 740 young people aged 15 to 26 surveyed online from May to July, and representatives from 22 key youth sector organisations who met to discuss the survey findings and ways forward.

“Young people overwhelming feel the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people is really important, but it is strained by prejudice and a lack of trust.  This report makes clear that the vast majority of young people want to be a part of healing the relationship.  As one young person said ‘we do not want to just close the gap, we want to smash the gap!’ ” said Andrew Cummings, Executive Director of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people identified ‘racism, discrimination and prejudice’ as the most important issue in Australia today. Non-Indigenous young people identified it as the second most important issue.

There are positive signs that things are changing. In comparing responses from young people to those of older generations, the survey found that three in four non-Indigenous young people are proud of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture compared with two in four non-Indigenous people from older generations.

“Like most young Australians I want to live in an Australia that celebrates its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.  I want to live in an Australia free from racism.  I want to live in an Australia where there is compassion and love and respect between every member of the Australian family” said Blake Tatafu, Indigenous Projects Officer at the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition.

Reconciliation Australia and the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition say every Australian – young or old, at home, in their community, in businesses, in government, in the not-for-profit sector – should think about how they can support change towards reconciliation.

“There’s no single strand to reconciliation. It takes lots of people doing lots of different things sharing a common goal.  Seven out of ten young people we surveyed are already talking to others about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.  Everyday actions like these make a significant contribution to improving the relationship,” said Leah Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer at Reconciliation Australia.

“You can play a part by getting involved with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience or the Youth Awareness Resource Network.  If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young person you could get involved with the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy, the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence or join the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.”

A Copy of the full report is available here – http://www.ayac.org.au/uploads/Yarn%20About%20Youth%20report.pdf

Also, you can check out the video from the two-day Yarn About Youth roundtable, put together by our friends at Vibewire.org – the video is available here.

For Comment – Andrew Cummings, Executive Director of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition – 0435 146 979

For Comment – Blake Tatafu, Indigenous Projects Officer at the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition – 02 9212 0500

Reconciliation Australia Media Contact – Kylie Kluger 0418 633 277

 

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 – http://www.ayac.org.au/

Reconciliation Australia is the national body building and promoting reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians for the wellbeing of the nation – www.reconciliation.org.au