Including Our Youth

The most exciting, adventurous, and vibrant base inside the Garma Festival, the Yothu Yindi Foundation’s Garma Youth Forum has been providing leadership programs for the past two decades. We’ve watched thousands of youngsters find their confidence, grow and flourish before our very eyes as they’ve turned into young adult leaders that are now steering our nations future. In return, you’ve taught we adults a few things or two, and for making us stand up and take notice of your voice we are eternally grateful. Here’s some of the Yothu Yindi Foundation’s greater moments on record.

Note* Behind The News, Garma Youth Declaration, images, musical workshops, pareidolia competition, Raypirri Rom (smoking ceremony), interviews of the kids by the ABC, Key Forum selections too (all Jason)

Garma Youth Forum Imagination Declaration 2019 (as written by youth participants)

To the Prime Minister & Education Ministers across Australia,

In 1967, we asked to be counted. In 2017, we asked for a voice and treaty. Today, we ask you to imagine what’s possible. The future of this country lies in all of our hands. We do not want to inherit a world that is in pain. We  do  not  want  to  stare  down  huge  inequality feeling powerless to our fate. We  do  not  want  to  be  unarmed  as  we  confront  some of the biggest problems faced by the human race,  from  rising  sea  levels,  which  will  lead  to significant refugee challenges, to droughts and food shortages, and our own challenges around a cycle of perpetuated disadvantaged. It’s time to think differently. With 60,000 years of genius and imagination in our hearts and minds, we can be one of the groups of people that transform the future of life on earth, for the good of us all. We can design the solutions that lift islands up in the  face  of  rising  seas,  we  can  work  on  creative agricultural solutions that are in sync with our natural habitat, we can re-engineer schooling, we can invent new jobs and technologies, and we can unite around kindness. We are not the problem, we are the solution. We don’t want to be boxed. We don’t want ceilings. We want freedom to be whatever a human mind can dream. When you think of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander  kid,  or  in  fact,  any  kid,  imagine  what’s possible. Don’t define us through the lens of disadvantage or label us as limited.Test us. Expect the best of us. Expect the unexpected. Expect us to continue carrying the custodianship of imagination, entrepreneurial spirit and genius. Expect us to be complex. And then let us spread our wings, and soar higher than ever before.

We call on you and the Education Ministers across the nation to establish an imagination agenda for our Indigenous kids and, in fact, for all Australian children. We urge you to give us the freedom to write a new story. We want to show the world Aboriginal genius. We want to show the nation Aboriginal leadership and imagination.

Over  the  coming  months  we’ll  be  sharing  the declaration with thousands of Indigenous kids across our nation and together we’ll stand to say, “set an imagination  agenda  for  our  classrooms,  remove the limited thinking around our disadvantage, stop looking at us as a problem to fix, set us free to be the solution and give us the stage to light up the world.” We want the Imagination agenda in every school in the nation, from early childhood learning centres through to our most prominent universities.

To our Prime Minister & Education Ministers, we call on you to meet with us and to work on an imagination plan for our country’s education system, for all of us.We are not the problem, we are the solution.