Nakia Making Waves in Parliament

22 / 07 / 2016

By Nakia Cadd

My name is Nakia Cadd, I’m a proud Gunditjmara, Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Bunitj woman from Melbourne. I’m an 18-year-old who previously would often speak only when asked, as the fear of not being heard or my opinion not mattering impacted the way I saw myself within the community. However, having had several platforms to use my voice as an Aboriginal young person I have definitely developed and distinguished underlying views and values, including understanding the importance of using your voice.  My position as an executive member on the Koorie Youth Council was one of the most influential and positive roles of which gave me the confidence and a platform to use my voice. The voice of which I would use, but previously would be ignored or spoken over. The voice of an Aboriginal young person who wants to positively influence change amongst her community. I believe that a voice is a tool of which has the ability to break down social barriers and create change. Which is why it’s so important to use every opportunity and most importantly use that voice.

This year I had the privilege of participating in a program through YMCA called Youth Parliament.  Myself and five other participants, were an all Indigenous team who had been previous participants of the Korin Gamadji Institute’s “Real Programs”, which is ran through the Richmond football club. The program is an engaging space for Indigenous young people with an intense focus on leadership development, education and training and career pathways. The Korin Gamadji Institute as well as the Victorian Electoral Commission were a positive and ongoing support of which provided us with this opportunity, and our skills from the program were no doubt present in parliament.

Nakia Youth Parliament

Youth Parliament was an incredible experience, which allowed us to network with other young people, develop skills and further our knowledge on parliament. But most importantly gave 120 young people from around Victoria a platform to speak about issues that impact or are relevant to them and their communities, at the highest level of state government. Myself and my team members researched issues that we were passionate about and developed a Bill which we would debate in the Victorian Parliament chambers. As the Indigenous population is grossly underrepresented we focused on how we could possibly change that. This Bill proposed Mandatory Indigenous seats on all local Victorian councils. We believe a seat on local council can formalise relationships between cultures, enable a platform to demonstrate cultural awareness, gives an opportunity to break down existing barriers to represent in parliament and allows for direct input into matters that impact the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

We as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are forced to conform to an unfair system by not having a decision on issues impacting our communities. Many of these issues affecting our communities are risk factors for our health and can determine what our future will look like if they are manage or unresolved. Many of these issues include mental health, drug and alcohol misuse and violence. As well as these issues environmental sustainability is important to address as many projects throughout Victoria have little, to no negotiation process in order to discuss benefits, possible damage or long term affects to the land and its surroundings. The land is our home, it is place, it is belonging and we as Aboriginal people have a spiritual connection to it, which is why it’s in our best interest to look after the land as it has looked after us for so long and continues to do so. Despite some strong points of debate against our bill, it was passed. And it was forwarded to the Youth Affairs Minister Jenny Mikakos and the Minister of Aboriginal affairs Natalie Hutchins. The honourable Minister Hutchins was confident in supporting our bill, so long as there was additional support from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community.

After our Bill passed I’ve continually been visualising what my community could achieve by having this voice. The reduction in mortality rates, safe environmental projects and environmental sustainability, equal representation in parliament, the decrease in racial discrimination and increased cultural safety as a result of cultural awareness. This Bill could not only influence this change, but encourage Treaty, in which we have been trying to achieve for such a long time.

Nakia Youth Parliament 2

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