In response to the growing recognition of the importance and value of Indigenous youth voices to the native title sector, the 2016 National Native Title Conference convened an Indigenous Youth Forum. A report and videos featuring delegates from this inaugural forum have now been published.
The forum was attended by 24 young people from the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Many reported feeling disengaged with their native title organisations, communities and land. Despite their geographical spread, they experienced similar issues and concerns, primarily relating to a lack of involvement in and knowledge of the sector.
“Growing up I haven’t really had that much involvement with the native title process just because that’s been my dad’s, and his generation that’s been going on for 20 plus years,” said Youth Forum delegate Jedess Hudson.
Delegates were joined by Professor Taiaiake Alfred, a member of the Bear Clan from the Kahnawá:ke community in the Mohawk Nation of Canada, who offered an international perspective on youth participation in Indigenous land rights and native title movements.
Professor Alfred drew on his involvement in Canadian and Australian youth forums to advise the delegates on ways of navigating land rights regimes and building cultural confidence.
“Because our youth are losing their language, they’re suffering because of their disconnection from the land. They’re suffering because of poverty, they’re suffering because of racism, and we have to address these issues ourselves,” said Professor Taiaiake Alfred.
The forum resulted in a draft statement of principles outlining the delegates’ goals, and established an email network to share information and support each other to be active participants within the native title sector.
“My aspirations for native title would be to start getting younger people involved and more active within the space,” said Youth Forum delegate Margetta Avlonitis.
Download the Report on the Indigenous Youth Forum.
Watch videos from the delegates below.
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