The inaugural Indigenous Youth in Governance Masterclass was held in Melbourne on 20 November 2018 by the Australia Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI) in partnership with the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Reconciliation Australia and BHP Billiton Foundation. The nearly 50 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in attendance shared their knowledge and experiences of governing, and engaged with presentations from leading young Indigenous people from Australia and New Zealand.
The participants had diverse backgrounds in governance including university students, local and federal government agencies as well as the health, justice, advocacy, land rights, native title, community, business and environmental sectors.
The masterclass included presentations on governance principles and the influence and intersection of Indigenous culture on approaches to governance, before delving into Indigenous governance in practice with a keynote from Annie Te One. Annie is a Ātiawa and Ngāti Mutunga woman from Wellington, New Zealand where she teaches Māori studies at the Victoria University of Wellington. Annie spoke about Māori governing values and practices and the need for Indigenous political systems to exist alongside Western equivalents. Annie highlighted the importance of Indigenous languages to understanding, expressing and asserting Indigenous forms of governance.
A panel of young Indigenous leaders in the health, advocacy and justice, and land rights sectors discussed ‘Agitating for Change’ based on their experiences of working in governance. Cherisse Buzzacott is an Arrernte/Arabunna woman from Alice Springs, currently residing in Canberra. She is the Project Officer for the Birthing on Country Project with the Australian College of Midwives. Cherisse spoke about the importance of surrounding yourself with allies and a strong support network when agitating for change. Indi Clarke is a proud Mutti Mutti & Lardil man with ties to Yorta Yorta, Wemba Wemba and Boon Wurrung. He is the Executive Officer of the Koorie Youth Council based in Narrm (Melbourne). Indi focussed on bringing young people together and supporting them to assert decision-making power. Sally Scales is a Pitjantjatjara woman from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. She is the Deputy Chair of the APY Executive Council and the youngest female board member and youngest Deputy Chair in the history of the organisation. Sally spoke about the need for communities and organisations to invest in young people and consult them on decisions that affect them. Sally encouraged participants to be brave and seek opportunities to be involved in governing their communities.
The masterclass ended with an activity to help participants identify and build on their negotiation skills. Participants were able to reflect on the importance of understanding the power structures, local influences and the interests of others when agitating for change, negotiating agreements or making decisions for their communities and organisations.
Photos and presentation slides from the day can be viewed here.
The next masterclass is scheduled for Monday 17 June 2019 in Darwin. Subscribe to the AIGI website to keep up to date.