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‘Change in my lifetime’: indigenous youth network’s push

Bridget Cama, right, and Aliira Davis, left, young indigenous leaders attending the Uluru youth summit. Picture: Brian Cassey


Bridget Cama and Allira Davis are building a network of young indigenous Australians who will work for lasting change.

In Cairns, Ms Cama, 24, and Ms Davis, 23, told the story of the Uluru Statement from the Heart to 58 other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youths from cities, towns and remote communities across Australia.

Ms Cama is a Wiradjuri woman from Lithgow in the New South Wales tablelands who believes young people can and will help indigenous people take their rightful place in Australia. She is a researcher at the University of New South Wales who helped organise the First Nations Uluru Youth Summit that ended Sunday as a way of inspiring young indigenous people to get involved.

“I want to move forward and create this movement and be a part of it,” she said.

“As a young person I really have hope that the system can change for our people. That’s why I’m putting in the hard work to make sure it’s done in my lifetime.”

Aliira Davis and Bridget Cama. Picture: Brian Cassey

The youth summit was more than an explanation of the landmark 2017 document that calls for voice, treaty and truth. It was a series of short courses in law reform, liberal democracy and how to bring people together to solve problems. The young men and women at the summit heard from traditional owners who made alliances with people across politics to protect their land from fracking. On Sunday they travelled to Yarrabah about 40 minutes drive from Cairns to meet Alfred Neal, 95, who – with his friend Ruth Hennings – led the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League in its struggle to win support for the successful 1967 referendum, enabling laws for indigenous people and including them in the census. Mr Neal and Ms Hennings were recognised in January with Order of Australia medals.

Ms Cama and Ms Davis hope the young men and women return to their communities with ideas and enthusiasm.

Ms Davis, from the Cobble Cobble clan and the Barunggam nation, is a Canberra-based consultant at law firm Ernst & Young. The Uluru statement’s reference to young people as “our hope for the future” struck a chord with her.

“We want to invite other young people to walk with us in this movement of the Australian people for a better future,” Ms Davis said.

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