03 July 2012
Indigenous youth leader debates in Parliament
Senada Aldobasic took part in the historic first National Indigenous Youth Parliament in Canberra recently.
Senada Aldobasic (third from right) and other Indigenous students meet the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
Ms Aldobasic, a proud Gunditjmara woman, is in her second year of a Bachelor of Criminal Justice and Administration at RMIT University.
She is involved in the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) scheme, volunteers at a local food bank and visits prisons to promote sport.
Her achievements coincides with NAIDOC Week, which runs to 8 July - an annual event that celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Ms Aldobasic was one of a select group of Indigenous youth leaders from across Australia to be mentored in the ways of parliament through writing and debating a bill in Old Parliament House.
She was also given the opportunity to discuss Indigenous issues with Prime Minister Julia Gillard; Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin; Governor-General Bryce Quentin AC; and Australia's first Indigenous Member of the House of Representatives, Ken Wyatt.
The youth leaders debated issues ranging from mandatory parliamentary seating of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders (the bill put forward by the Victorian delegation), compulsory Indigenous education in schools, Indigenous Seed Funding and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Young Offenders Correctional Schemes.
"These bills were all passed to Jenny Macklin and will be taken into consideration for presentation to parliament," Ms Aldobasic said.
"I learnt that my voice can be heard through advocacy and talking to those in Parliament.
"We can be passionate about things from afar, but it's not until you engage those in parliament that things will take a step forward and actually change.
"Never underestimate the power of your voice," she said.
Ms Aldobasic's long-term goal is to undertake development studies and apply her knowledge to help individuals in developing countries who are not well served by their justice systems.
"I want to get involved more with advocacy and involve myself in a greater understanding of what I can do to combat the worldwide issue of social injustice," she said.
Proud Warramunga man and Manager of RMIT's Ngarara Willim Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre, Stuart McFarlane, said: "NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity for the University to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and the achievements of students like Senada.
"She is one among many others who have graduated from RMIT and who are positive and proactive future leaders within the Aboriginal community."
Ms Aldobasic will join Ngarara Willim Centre staff on the annual NAIDOC walk on Friday, 7 July.
Students and staff are welcome to join the walk at 10am at the Aboriginal Health Service, 186 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy.
Ms Aldobasic addresses the first National Indigenous Youth Parliament.
Ms Aldobasic meets the Governor-General, Bryce Quentin AC.
And with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Jenny Macklin.
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