2012 National Indigenous Youth Parliament - Member Profiles

Updated: 21 May 2014

Fifty Indigenous leaders of the future will meet in Canberra in May 2012 to debate issues affecting their communities and country at the first National Indigenous Youth Parliament.


Mitchell DAHLSTROM – Moree – 19 years

Mitchell Dahlstrom, of Moree, is using the opportunity of being a member of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament to build on his community involvement. He received his first community award aged 15 when he received the Chris Newman Award for services to the school community, the Aboriginal Education Achievement Award and the inaugural Nanga Mai Award.

Every year since, he has received accolades from local, district, regional, state and national organisations, federal and state Minsters, NSW Department of Education and mayoral offices. These achievements acknowledge his leadership skills and ability.

His community commitment is demonstrated in letters of support from his secondary college, state and federal ministers and the Moree Plains Shire Council. Mitchell is an outstanding role model for Moree youth and the community.

Taneshia ATKINSON – Ballina – 18 years

Taneshia Atkinson, of Ballina, is committed to closing the gap and reconciliation initiatives and is passionate about equality between all Australians.

She has demonstrated her strong leadership skills in attending several forums including an elite Indigenous Leadership Camp with the Indigenous All Stars early this year and Indigenous Youth Leadership program with the Gold Coast Jetstar Titans in 2011. Taneshia is an outstanding role model for young people in the Northern Rivers area.

Tameka Lee Dinno O'DONNELL – Broken Hill – 17 years

Tameka O'Donnell is the Vice-Captain of Broken Hill High School and is the Murdi Paaki Young Leader in her region. The Murdi Paaki Aboriginal Young Leaders Project draws from 16 communities in western NSW and aims to involve young indigenous people in local and regional community governance.

Tameka demonstrated her strong leadership skills and ability recently when she spoke on behalf of Aboriginal youth at the Aboriginal Taskforce forum in Broken Hill. She was selected to attend the Indigenous All Stars game after winning a state wide competition linked to visual literacy.

Jason Edward O'NEIL – Parkes – 17 years

Jason O'Neil, of Parkes, is active in his school and community and has shown leadership as a member of the 2011 YMCA NSW Youth Parliament representing Parkes. He is the School Captain of Parkes High School has been on the Student Representative Council since 2007.

He is committed through voluntary work with the Wiradjuri Language Website to maintaining his native language by making it widely accessible to the local community.

Jason also demonstrates his leadership and motivational skills and ability by working with youth groups in church and community.

Hayden Lynn Texas GIBBS-O'NEILL – Orange – 17 years

Hayden Gibbs-O'Neill, of Orange, is an active member of the Canobolas Rural Technology High School and his community. He has been a member of the school's Student Representative Council for the past five years and is assisting in the development of a Junior Aboriginal Education Consultative Council as well as a "Yarning Circle" that supports younger Indigenous students at his school.

He coaches an Under 6 junior rugby league team and plays in local and representative rugby league and touch football competitions.

Jaleesa DONOVAN – Milperra – 22 years

Jaleesa Donovan, of Milperra, is employed as an Administrative Assistant at the University of Western Sydney. She has participated in several leadership programs since 2009 that include OXFAMS Change Course, FaHCSIA’s Womens Leadership Program, Oxfams Straight Talk and is currently an Australian Action Partner with Oxfam’s International Youth Partnerships (2010-2013). Last year Jaleesa had the opportunity to complete a Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership.

She has participated in local and national forums and is active in actively promoting human rights along with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth committed to making positive changes in their communities.

Her work has been recognised in her community including by receiving the Australian Government "Closing the Gap" community award, presented by her local federal member of parliament.


Senada ALDOBASIC – Springvale – 19 years

Senada Aldobasic, of Springvale, has a strong interest in social and economic injustice and is in her second year studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration. Through her participation in the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), Senada helps to empower and encourage Indigenous youth.

Senada is highly motivated and in her spare time volunteers at a local food bank and visits prisons to promote recreational sport activities.

Mason PETER – Meringur – 16 years

Mason Peter, of Meringur, is passionate about Law and Politics which he plans to study on completion of his VCE. Mason is a Youth Ambassador for the Mildura Rural City Council where he raises issues facing young Indigenous people in his electorate.

He is a member of the Emerging Koori Leaders Group which is run by the Department of Justice as well as a participant of the Indigenous Youth Leadership program.

His involvement as a coach for the Active After Schools Community program shows his motivation to empower youth.

John SINGH-NAGYIVAN – Sherbrooke – 19 years

John Singh-Nagyivan, of Sherbrooke, is making a return visit to Parliament House with his involvement in the National Youth Indigenous Parliament. As a Year 10 student at John Monash Science School, John was selected as one of 100 Year 10 students to complete work experience at Parliament House.

John's leadership qualities are much admired by his peers at his school which caters for students with an aptitude in the sciences, mathematics and emerging technologies.

He has shown an interest in broadening his understanding of how Parliament works and has been involved in the World Challenge, leading 12 people through Thailand.

Leah HUNT – Dimboola – 17 years

Leah Hunt, of Dimboola, works unpaid with the Local Lands Council. Her role consists of both reception and cultural heritage, which involves monitoring developments around sites.

Participating in the National Indigenous Youth Parliament will help improve her understanding of politics and enable her to teach her community about the value of politics and voting.

Leah works closely with the police to improve the relationship between the police and youth. She has concerns about family violence, suicide, and depression caused by drugs and alcohol. On completion of the program, Leah plans to speak to the local health centre and the land council, visit educational centres in her area to present the information, and has approached over 50s groups, bowling clubs and church groups to arrange to speak to them.

Kobi LAUDANI – Bairnsdale – 18 years

Kobi Laudani, of Bairnsdale, in the Gippsland region of Victoria has been a participant of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Project. He was invited to speak with senior executives of the Department of Planning & Community Development, which also included the departmental Secretary. He is passionate about his family, sport and community.

Kobi has a keen interest in issues that confront young people within his community and regards his involvement in the National Indigenous Youth Parliament as a great development opportunity.

Alkira EDWARDS – Lalor – 18 years

Alkira Edwards, of Lalor, is interested in education, training and employment and also in promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. She works for the Koorie Night Market as a Community Liaison and Administration Officer.

Alkira volunteers for Connecting Home Inc. which runs programs and events for those affected by the Stolen Generation. In 2010 she received the prestigious "Emerging Leadership Award" from her secondary college. She is passionate about the youth in her community and encouraging them to stay on at school as a step towards addressing the social problems in the community.

Victorian NIYP members' workshop


Toriann DE BOSCH – Cairns – 17 years

Toriann De Bosch, of Cairns, plans to study for a Law and Political Science degree.

Her confidence in front of an audience and her involvement in various leadership and ambassador roles and participates in a range of cultural events made her a natural choice for membership of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament. After the Parliament she would like to implement skills and ideas in community and develop an action plan for a leadership program.

Brayden GROGAN – Mareeba – 17 years

Brayden Grogan, of Mareeba, is interested in politics in his community and beyond and his family's involvement inspires him to do the same. He has had numerous public speaking and representational opportunities and volunteers his time to better his community though health and fitness initiatives.

His short-term goal is to use his newfound skills to help his school's cultural committee.

Longer-term, Brayden is interested in community leadership and possible political representation at a local or state government level.

Letisha JARDEN – Beenleigh – 16 years

Letisha Jarden, of Beenleigh, is confident, intelligent and passionate. She has a big heart and demonstrates this using her initiative to encourage her employer and school to sponsor local groups and by volunteering her time where needed. She is involved in the Duke of Edinburgh program. She seeks to be a better leader and create change and would like to use the new ideas and skills learned at NIYP to make these outcomes possible.

Morgan LEE – Plainland – 17 years

Morgan Lee has a strong interest in the parliamentary system and democratic process and how to engage and involve Indigenous people. She is a confident speaker, has a strong creative side, and is quiet and good listener.

She is very active within her Community where she has performed various leadership and ambassador roles. Morgan will use the debating skills she learns at the National Indigenous Youth Parliament in her debating team at Lockyer District High School.

Emily FYFE – Mt Isa – 22 years

Emily Fyfe recently moved from Townsville to Mount Isa and from her exposure to local issues she feels a responsibility to push for changes. She has the ability to relate and communicate effectively.

In her role as an Indigenous Customer Service Officer with a Federal Government agency as well as participating in cultural events, Emily interacts with all the community.

Murrawah JOHNSON – Townsville – 17 years

Murrawah Johnson, of Townsville, has an efficient way of bringing forth Indigenous youth issues from community and developing effective ways of improving them. She was the first Aboriginal Vice-Captain at her College. She boards with students from other communities, is a sporting house leader and captain of the college choir.

Her father, Norman Johnson, ran for the Senate many years ago, but was unsuccessful. She will use her NIYP experience to strive to work harder and smarter to get over hindrances that too often block solutions to problems.

Torres Strait Islands

Aldene REUBEN – Bamaga – 22 years

Aldene Reuben, of Bamaga, has lived all his life in the five communities of the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA). He is keen to identify and discuss the issues facing remote and isolated Indigenous communities. He now works for the regional council, supervising a team of three servicing five communities with a focus on liveable and active communities.

He is very well known in the community, workplace and family as an individual who speaks his mind on issues regarding improvement for Indigenous people. After the program he wants to bring the skills learnt to his workplace sharing with his employer and work peers, and would also like to encourage other stakeholders about the learning experience to together work towards betterment of their communities.

Quynira MCKEOWN – Horn Island – 17 years

Quynira McKeown, of Horn Island, hopes her involvement in the National Indigenous Youth Parliament will help her become a more experienced leader.

She is already an effective communicator but wants to build on her confidence to be a better role model for both her school and community.

Quynira was primary school class captain for six years and is now school Vice-Captain at Tagai State College. She has five years' experience in local the SES Cadet Program and is a member of Local Youth Council for the third year. After the NIYP program Quynira would like to share her skills and ideas with her school community as well as in volunteer roles with the Torres Strait Youth Council and local SES Cadets.

Western Australia

Dylan COLLARD – Perth – 19 years

Dylan Collard, of Perth, is studying Law and Arts (Politics Major) at the University of Western Australia (UWA). He is the President of the Western Australian Student Aboriginal Corporation as well as being the Aboriginal representative on UWA's law society, Blackstone.

He is involved with the Aspire and Future Footprints programs as well as the student guild. He believes participation in the NIYP will help develop his leadership and advocacy skills as well as contributing to his goal of becoming a member of Australia's Federal Parliament.

Kelsi Morgan Joan FORREST – Perth – 19 years

Kelsi Forrest, of Perth, is studying Law and Arts (Politics Major) at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and has a passion for politics. She is a member of the Aboriginal Youth Reference group for the WA Drug and Alcohol Advisory Service and a regular volunteer for the Future Footprints Program, an additional support structure for Indigenous students from regional and remote areas of WA attending residential schools in Perth.

She takes great pride in representing the Noongar community and hopes one day to become a member of Australia's Federal Parliament.

Ashleigh Jade LINDSAY – Perth – 18 years

Ashleigh Lindsay, of Perth, is a young mother who has returned to school in order to complete her secondary studies. She is passionate about education as well as health, particularly in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. To quote from her letter of support by Ken Wyatt MP "Knowing the struggles this young person has gone through to be in the position she is now at such a young age is remarkable and I cannot think of another high school student in her position that would be more deserving of this initiative."

Tyson MCEWAN – Geraldton – 16 years

Tyson McEwan, of Geraldton, has been the President of the Indigenous Youth Council in Geraldton as well as a supervisor for the Geraldton Streetwork holiday program.

He won the category of 'Participate' in the 2010 WA Youth Awards and is viewed as an effective communicator with both his peers and teachers.

Corey KHAN – Donnybrook – 18 years

Corey Khan, of Donnybrook, is a Structural Design Trainee and is passionate about increasing the quality of remote Indigenous housing.

Corey assisted with the delivery of cultural awareness training to the employees where he is undertaking his traineeship and regularly attends cultural trips with his father.

Clinton Andrew PRYOR – Perth – 22 years

Clinton has overcome significant adversity, including experiencing homelessness at a young age, to achieve his current position in life. Through a connection to the David Wirrpanda Foundation, Clinton provides support to other young people who require guidance and he continues to provide assistance to people experiencing homelessness through the Foyer program.

In 2010 he was recognised with the Central Institute of Technology's 2010 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award. He has a strong belief that education and training are the tools people require to achieve better opportunities in life.

South Australia

Dwayne LINDSAY – Glossop – 21years

Dwayne Lindsay, of Glossop, is considered to be a leader in his community and is often called upon to speak on their behalf.

For the past 2 years he has been the Chairperson of the Riverland Aboriginal Youth Action Committee (RAYAC) and is active in the community collaborating and encouraging connections between local mainstream youth groups and representing Aboriginal youth on regional forums.

Dwayne attended the State-wide Aboriginal Men's Leadership Workshops held in SA and facilitated discussion groups at the State Aboriginal Youth Conference. Dwayne's goal is to share his skills with his Indigenous and non-Indigenous peers alike and engage more broadly and participate in local and national Indigenous Youth affairs to make positive change for his people.

Melissa PARBS – Murray Bridge – 18 years

Melissa Parbs, of Murray Bridge, is a tertiary student studying teaching at the University of South Australia (UniSA) and is actively involved in the education of young Indigenous students as a tutor and mentor in her home town.

She is also a positive contributor to meetings of the Aboriginal education unit and a strong advocate for students who need extra assistance with their work. Her commitment to Indigenous Youth Leadership is demonstrated by her determination to build the confidence of Indigenous youth, and show them that education is key to them making positive changes in their community.

Jazmin WATSON – Coober Pedy – 19 years

Jazmin Watson, of Coober Pedy, is committed to having the youth voice heard in her community, a well-known opal mining town in the north of South Australia. Coming from a remote community, she is very concerned about environmental sustainability and Indigenous affairs.

She has shown her commitment to youth advocacy by being a student voice representative and school captain Coober Pedy Area School. She is always looking for opportunities to get involved and make a difference, and she has the confidence to discuss community issues. She is committed to following through on her ideas and taking action and the National Indigenous Youth Parliament offers the perfect opportunity to do this.

Andrew FRASER – Unley – 19 years

Andrew Fraser, of Unley, has travelled long distances and been involved in many different communities across Australia. He takes a holistic approach, and does not see himself representing one particular community, but represents those that don't have a voice in all communities.

Andrew states: "If you have the ability to take action, then it is your duty to act", and he demonstrates this through his work with the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, supporting communities by providing a voice for their concerns and creating initiatives that can be implemented to their specific community.

Warrick CLINCH – Seacombe Gardens – 23 years

Warrick Clinch, of Seacombe Gardens, sees respect, honesty and trust as the keys to his success in working with Indigenous communities.

His commitment is demonstrated though his work with school children, picking them up from school and taking them home, and running sporting clinics. He also attends Health Clinic luncheons (Nunga Lunches) and mentors young men in primary and secondary school.

Warrick works with elders in the community in his spare time, taking them shopping, helping them around their house and garden and keeping their minds active with various activities. He is a strong advocate for support of Indigenous students in schools and creating an environment of learning that suits their needs. Warrick is keen to be a leader and advocate for the youth of his community and to help them have a voice.

Kimberley LOVEGROVE – Everard Park – 19 years

Kimberley Lovegrove, of Everard Park, was the only Indigenous member of the Taskforce for the YMCA-led State Youth Parliament, and the only Indigenous participant in 2011, giving her a sense of pride representing her community.

She is a determined young woman who has been a member of the Unley Youth Advisory Committee for 2 years and is passionate about campaigning and advocacy. She has won multiple awards including Unley's Young Citizen of the Year award, and was a finalist in the Girlfriend of the Year competition. She has also had her story and a view published in many papers and magazines and has been interviewed for the AEC's "Louder than One Voice" video.


Rebekah SHURLEY – Ulverston – 21 years

Rebekah Shurley, of Ulverston, in the north-west of Tasmania has had strong community involvement since being elected school captain, participating in Tasmania's Model United Nations Assembly and as a finalist in Rotary's Youth of the Year. She continues to work in the community as a volunteer with her local church group and as member of the Six Rivers Aboriginal Corporation.

She is aware of the ever changing environment of community life and wishes to develop her skills to make her voice stronger to make a difference, to bring awareness to Indigenous culture and to teach these skills to other young Indigenous people. Rebekah has public speaking skills which she would like to pass to others so they can make a difference and be heard.

Marley CLARK – Flinders Island – 17 years

Marley Clark, of Flinders Island, is an active participant in her community. She is a determined person who has a passion for Indigenous affairs and wants to promote ideas and issues facing Indigenous people.

Marley is a great role model and is prepared to do that little extra when difficulties arise. She has a good civic and constitutional knowledge having recently attended a constitutional recognition forum to promote constitutional change and presented to the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

Teangi BROWN – Hobart – 17 years

Teangi Brown, of Hobart, is a young independent man who values being a positive role model and is active in his community.

Teangi has done Welcome to Country ceremony at events and participated in a film project to promote Indigenous culture with the Tasmanian Elders Council in Launceston. He has also made a dance documentary highlighting the French/Indigenous history in Tasmania. His diversity of interests includes being part of a philosophy group, bushwalking and scuba diving. Teangi is motivated, respectful, has a desire to learn through participation and aware that change is possible and sometimes necessary.

Emarra GOWER – Launceston – 15 years

Emarra Gower, of Launceston, has shown leadership, commitment, determination and a willingness to learn in applying herself to making a difference in her life and those around her. She participates in many community events, rallies and youth programs. She is a mentor for other young Indigenous members of her community and is able to work with the Elders of her community recognising their strengths and knowledge.

Emarra is a young person who has awareness and understanding about issues and her community and is about making a difference not only for herself but also for others.

Jordan CLARK – Bridgewater – 15 years

Jordan Clark, of Bridgewater, is a young person motivated and actively involved in making a difference in her community.

A school student, she is able to communicate effectively and recognises issues that are important in her community. Jordan is willing to share her skills and encourage others to be more involved to make a better place for all.

Alice WISE – Launceston – 17 years

Alice Wise, of Launceston, is a motivated person who has had to leave her home on Flinders Island where she is a junior member of the Flinders Island Aboriginal Association to study Indigenous art at Launceston College.

She recognises education as a way for furthering Indigenous issues in her community and the broader Australian community. Alice is committed to keeping Indigenous knowledge alive through her own learning and understanding.

Northern Territory

Tara LIDDY – Darwin – 25 years

Tara Liddy, of Darwin, is passionate about Indigenous issues and as a young mother she would like to see change in her lifetime for her son, family and her people. She is studying full-time for a Bachelor's degree in teaching and arts (history and cultural heritage) through Charles Darwin University.

She is active in sport and has represented her culture, state and country on many occasions in softball. Tara was selected to attend the first Inaugural Indigenous Youth Leadership course in Canberra (completed Cert II in Indigenous Leadership) through the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre.

Belicia BAIRD – Gapuwiyak Community, Nhulunbuy – 20 years

Belicia Baird, of Nhulunbuy, works as an Assistant Teacher in her community of Gapuwiyak which is in the East Arnhem Region. She will represent Yolngu (Aboriginal) people and give a voice to her community. She is involved in local sports and cultural activities.

She is passionate about issues that affect her community, for example, housing shortages, training for health workers, and people dying at a young age. She is confident and open and is multilingual (Yolngu and English).

Chanston PAECH – Alice Springs – 25 years

Chanston Paech, of Alice Springs, sees the National Indigenous Youth Parliament as an opportunity to speak on issues that are affecting his community and people. He would like to gain a better understanding of the relationship between executive and administrative arms of government.

Chanston is employed as Regional Co-ordinator at the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council on the prevention of blood-borne viruses. He has lived all his life in Alice Springs and is involved in the community on various levels.

Dwayne JONES – Timber Creek – 20 years

Dwayne Jones, of Timber Creek, is a sports and recreation officer at his community which is between Katherine and the Kimberley. He is a role model to the younger members of his community. He recently received the honour of Citizen of the Year on Australia Day 2012.

In 2011 he won two awards in the Katherine region: NAIDOC Youth of the Year (Male) and Junior Community Involvement. He is passionate about working with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members to promote healthy lifestyles through healthy eating to improve the quality of life.

Nateesha COLLINS – Darwin – 20 years

Nateesha Collins, of Darwin, is a descendant of the Larrakia Tribe, known as the "Saltwater People" and the traditional owners of Darwin.

She is a member of the Larrakia Board and some of the issues she hopes to address are the rates of unemployment and drug and alcohol abuse within the Darwin community.

Her capacity for innovation and her passion and cultural knowledge allow her to debate these important issues with integrity and respect. She has the ability to understand others and their opinions and perspectives.

Sebastion PASCOE – Elcho Island – 24 years

Sebastian Pasco, of Elcho Island, works as a Sports and Development Officer with the Galiwinku Community, on Elcho Island, in the East Arnhem Region. With the Shire Services he has been employed with the Youth Services since December 2011.

He works with children and young people between the ages of 5–25 years in programs such as the after school care program, vacation care, sports and youth mentoring. Sebastian has been involved in a community driven youth group that mentored young people with substance abuse problems.

Sebastian has this year received an award from the East Arnhem Shire Youth Sports and Recreation for outstanding leadership. He is a positive role model within the Youth Services program and promotes living a healthy lifestyle and importance of education with the participants.

NT NIYP members' workshop


Casey KEED – 19 years

Casey is actively involved in the ACT Indigenous community. She is committed to empowering Indigenous Youth in the ACT and across Australia.

She has demonstrated this through her dance company Dance Beyond Barriers and as an ambassador for National Youth Week. Casey is a role model for ACT youth, is self-confident and motivated.

Felicia MCLEAN – 25 years

Although Felicia has only lived in the ACT for two years, she has developed numerous contacts and extensive networks both through her volunteer roles and as a member of the Australian Public Service.

Felicia has demonstrated leadership and passion in advancing her career and community concerns. Felicia has high level support from the ACT Indigenous community, has experience in the policy arena with the Attorney General's Department and is a confident public speaker.

Frank GAFA – 22 years

Frank is passionate about community issues, especially youth issues, politics and the parliamentary system. Frank has experience in the policy area and is heavily involved in Indigenous youth representation in the education and human rights sectors in the ACT.

Frank's goal in participating in the NIYP is to take the information and skills he gains and disseminate it to the wider community. Frank is a role model for Indigenous Young people in the ACT.

Brooke DUNEMANN – 24 years

Brooke was heavily involved in Land Rights in her community of Wide Bay-Burnett in Queensland and returns home regularly.

She was a graduate with the Australian Federal Police and is a valued member of their diversity team. Brooke also brings the perspective of the numerous communities where she has lived and worked. She is committed to being a leader in the community and is a role model in her personal and work life.

Melissa PASSARELLI – 24 years

Melissa has a strong interest in the parliamentary system and how this can inform on her work as an Indigenous public servant.

Melissa sees the NIYP as an opportunity to strengthen her skills in policy. Her particular interests are the environment and sustainability. Melissa is passionate about representing her community and her ambition is to represent her community as an MP in the future, and transferring knowledge gained at the NIYP to Indigenous people. She looks to encourage Indigenous youth to follow her example and be a leader in the community.

Stephanie POLLARD – 17 years

Stephanie is a young leader on the rise. She has demonstrated a commitment to her school community. Stephanie is experienced in public speaking and has good writing skills. She is enthusiastic about community issues, the Australian Parliament and making an informed choice when it comes to voting.

She seeks to lead by example and to encourage Indigenous young people to enter higher education. Stephanie is also passionate about other issues impacting on the Indigenous community including homelessness and access to healthcare.

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