Malama Gray, Youth Governor-General: The AEC wants to close the gap on Indigenous electoral participation. It's the 50th anniversary of the Indigenous right to vote so the AEC, in collaboration with the YMCA and the Museum of Australian Democracy, wanted to come up with a concept that gave Indigenous Australians experience in the parliament, breaking down the fear and showing them the technical aspects of parliament, how it works and how democracy in Australia is effective.
The Hon Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs: It really is so special for you to be able to be here. I want to give you a very special welcome to Canberra and look forward to, hopefully, seeing you up in the new Parliament House.
The Hon Peter Garrett, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth: Thanks very much, Ed, and congratulations to the AEC and to the Y for bringing you all here.
Andrew Fraser: Yes, it has been a bit of a dream. When I was in high school I wanted to be the first Aboriginal prime minister – back in Orange High School, I said to my teachers so I am making that first step now. This is my first step in my political career.
Andrew Fraser (Voice Over): This morning we went and spoke with Mr Tony Abbott and it was a fantastic experience. You have quite a special feeling going in there.
The Hon Tony Abbott: I hope you don't find the place too strange and the fact that we now have an Indigenous member in the House of Representatives, Ken Wyatt, should make you feel, I think, encouraged that look, there is no bar to anyone achieving their dream in this country. What do you think you can do to try to ensure the kids actually go to school?
Rebekah Shurley: Not just taking, I guess, a stock-standard approach to education, but about actually looking at how we can reach, not only the Indigenous people but people on all levels.
Andrew Fraser: Try to empower the young students to set the change and break the stereotypes – be the difference.
Mural Hall, Parliament House
Andrew Fraser (Voice Over): We have just sat at the SA [South Australia] table with Senator Penny Wright from South Australia and we had presentations and speeches from a couple of other senators. I hope to talk about some health issues and health initiatives that will be coming in the budget after the new financial year and hopefully organise some Aboriginal community trials and talk about what her thoughts are and what she is doing. I will present some issues and reminders of where we are at in South Australia.
House of Representative Chamber, Old Parliament House
Andrew Fraser (Voice Over): Question Time felt pretty surreal, with you knowing that you've seen it on TV.
The Hon Anna Burke, Deputy Speaker: I do want to welcome to the parliament today members of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament. I am reliably informed that amongst them are many leaders of tomorrow. Welcome today.
[NIYP members raise their arms amid applause and laughter]
The Hon Anna Burke: Oh, good self-selection up there! We hope very much in the future we are seeing some of you down here on the floor.
Andrew Fraser (Voice Over): After lunch we met up with Julia Gillard, which was fantastic, the Prime Minister. And that was quite an experience, she made her way to come and see us.
Prime Minister, Julia Gillard: I liked the waving in Question Time. And who was the person going like that? [Tapping her shoulders]
Unknown: Me. [Laughter]
Prime Minister: It was you. I was just about to pick that. Are you having a good time?
Prime Minister: Well I hope it is a fantastic experience for you and you enjoy it and get to make friends from around the country. It is a great pleasure to have you here. And you certainly gave us the best moment of Question Time by a long, long, long way, so that's great.
Malama Gray (Voice Over): We've also been invited to the Governor-General's to have a meet and greet and we were also able to listen to her words of wisdom that she bestowed on us.
Her Excellency, Ms Quentin Bryce: Delegates, ladies and gentlemen, my friends, may I offer you the very warmest of welcomes to Government House for this very special occasion to celebrate the first ever National Indigenous Youth Parliament.
Malama Gray: Thank you, Your Excellency, for those very kind words. I have been invited to speak to you all today as youth governor-general for the 2012 National Indigenous Youth Parliament. I would like to say what a great honour it is and how privileged I feel to be offered this opportunity.
[Chatter as candidates leave].
Aldene Reuben: At the moment we are practising a bill for tomorrow – which is on euthanasia. We are practising to build up confidence to stand up in front of everybody.
Malama Gray (Voice Over): The participants have a lot of opportunities to do public speaking. They were actually able to nominate themselves as leaders within the government or opposition and they actually went to a vote and elected the members who were going to represent them as prime minister and opposition leader.
Aldene Reuben: I am nervous to go into Old Parliament tomorrow. They say it is a very special place, so I am really looking forward going there tomorrow. I am from Queensland so, obviously we'll do well.
Matilda House, Elder, Ngunnawal People: We are so privileged to have people like yourselves here today, to address this parliament and to get those bills going and to make sure that this government is listening. So I want to welcome you all here today, and I wish you all the very best, the really best, because you are in a place where you can make a difference. So thank you and welcome to my country.
Andrew Leigh MP, Member for Fraser: It is a pleasure and a privilege to be here today with you, the future leaders of our nation.
Ed Killesteyn, Electoral Commissioner: Before you commence the parliament I would like to say to the young parliamentarians that you have had some very good teachers over the course of this program.
Ron Mell, CEO, YMCA Australia: Given an opportunity, young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have passion for life, a determination to succeed and the energy to succeed.
Jenny Anderson, Director, Museum of Australian Democracy: This House of Representatives chamber witnessed noisy and passionate debate about Indigenous rights when this building was a working parliament.
The Hon Bronwyn Bishop: Everyone who's come here today will be there to assist if you want to learn more, but at the end of the day the decision is yours. The work is for you to do, to take the opportunity. So I wish you well, take every opportunity and I do hope to see many more of you come back to this place, either to learn or to be part of us, and perhaps to see, one day, someone who's elected.
Jaleesa Donovan: So right now we are at Old Parliament House. We are here to debate our bills that each state has been working on.
Jaleesa Donovan (At the despatch box): The Indigenous seed funding youth bill 2012 will empower Aboriginal communities to have control over the way government funding is applied to initiatives and services in their local area.
Jaleesa Donovan: I got up and spoke on our bill. I was a little bit nervous, but once a few other of the team members got up, we were confident and passionate about our bill.
Jaleesa Donovan (At the despatch box): My Indigenous identity isn't determined by the colour of my skin, the language I speak, the clothes I wear, where I live, the people I come in contact with, my career, my hobbies or the music I listen to. It is about the connections I have with my culture, my family, my community and the traditional land where my people are from.
All: Here, here!
Jaleesa Donovan (At the despatch box): My Indigenous identity is a major part of who I am and is very dear and sacred to my heart.
All: Here, here!
Jaleesa Donovan: I felt great getting up. I yelled into the microphone a little bit – which was awesome. It was good to get up and to have a say.
Dylan Collard: I loved the way everyone really stepped up. No-one looked tired, so that was good.
Frank Gafa: Yeah, today went really well. Everyone talked really well and everyone got up and had a go.
Chanston Paech: I also would like to point out to the elected members opposite me: when you ask the question, 'How do we intend to do this?' my words to you are, 'Read the bill before you come in here. Don't waste our time.'
Dylan Collard: Our job as the Australian government and as the service of the people is to fix issues. We will do whatever it takes to fix this issue and to implement legislation to fix this issue up until the nation and the people within it are truly equal.
All: Here, here!
Jason O'Neil: The lack of proper research and insight just goes to demonstrate how desperate the government is to appear to be a shining light for troubled Indigenous Australians.
Ashley Lindsay: And also, the opposition didn't like the government's bill about housing reform yesterday, so don't pretend the opposition cares about the living standard of anyone else.
All: Here, here! Shame!
Lara Liddy: Some of the speeches that were heard today were so touching and moving. It's just made us respect each other more and it's made us come together more. And I guess that's in the spirit of sharing information because now we are all so much closer and so much more united, and that is what we need as Indigenous people.
Aldene Reuben: Today I stand to advocate for housing and infrastructure in five communities within the Northern Peninsula Area: The Bamaga, Seisia, New Mapoon, Umagico and Injinoo.
Alice Wise: Going to a district high school of approximately a hundred people you would think bullying would not be a component of such a small school. Wrong.
Melissa Parbs: Last November our local paper published an article. It was on the front page. The title was 'Regional Racism'. A survey conducted by the paper found that 14 per cent of employers in our home town would not hire an Aboriginal person.
Jordan Clark: Our main factor is drug and alcohol abuse within youth and the impact it has on their ability to work, to be educated and to pursue their dreams.
Jazmin Watson: Less than six months ago in Coober Pedy one of my friends, an Aboriginal girl in my class, tried to kill herself. We were so lucky we got there just in time.
Mason Peter: Discrimination is illegal in Australia and therefore should be illegal on online sites, such as Facebook.
Brayden Grogan: Recent years show there has been a program called FAFT – Families as First Teachers. This was a highly successful program in the Kuranda and Mareeba communities. Due to the lack of funding allocated to the program it was shut down.
Corey Khan: I applied for the National Indigenous Youth Parliament because I have always had a strong passion for remote housing – remote Indigenous housing.
Corey Khan (At the despatch box): Indigenous households, specifically in remote areas, have different design needs than non-Indigenous households.
Corey Khan: And I figured that now is my opportunity to try and get my point across. Thankfully, our bill got across the line so I was pretty happy about that.
The Hon Jenny Macklin: I am looking forward very much to receiving the bills and looking to the detail of those bills, asking my department for advice about how we might put these bills into the policy-making process. I intend to use them in exactly that way so that you can know that your work has been put to a very, very positive purpose.
Corey Kahn (Voice Over): That moment when the bills were actually handed over to Jenny Macklin was amazing. It was the best feeling.
Andrew Fraser (Voice Over): My favourite speaker was Ken Wyatt. He demanded a lot of respect and we gave it back to him in tenfold. He really appreciated us being there and he has seen us as future leaders. He is someone I aspire to be – with his political status at the moment, being the first Indigenous in the House of Representatives. He was on our common level and no matter whether he was an MP or not, he is on our common level, so that was fantastic.
The Hon Kevin Rudd: The next generation of Aboriginal leaders is really important for the country as a whole, but especially for Indigenous Australia. So this Indigenous Youth Parliament, I think, is terrific. I have met 50 or so of the young people over the last several days. They are full of enthusiasm, they are full of bright ideas and they are full of positive vision. I reckon with those three things going for them, the country is going to be in good hands for the future of reconciliation.
Jaleesa Donovan: I definitely came on this program to move forward in my, I guess, professional development and also my small understanding of government. So coming here, the whole-government process and seeing how the politics actually work in Australia has definitely given me the motivation to move forward in my own leadership role within my community, my family and in my workplace.
Corey Khan: I will definitely be sharing the knowledge I learnt from NIYP. I've got a lot of speeches lined up for my old schools and I think now I can be seen as a mentor for our younger generation.
Andrew Fraser (Voice Over): The last couple of days have been fantastic. I mean, they've been surreal, It has actually quite surreal when you look back at the progress we have made. Two-day's worth of setup, training and mock debates, and for about 20-minutes worth to go into Old Parliament House and being really formal about it, it was fantastic.
Aldene Reuben: I have got a real understanding now of parliament. I am happy to go back to Bamaga and share it out with all the youths, as events officer, to every youth that we have, just telling them that anybody can do it. If I can do it, they can do it.