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Meeting with young achievers to discuss indigenous issues.

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Meeting With Young Achievers to Discuss Indigenous Issues

IPS 069/2003

A group of five young participants in the upcoming National Youth Roundtable met the Australian Indigenous Affairs Minister, Philip Ruddock, today at Parliament House in Canberra to discuss issues of concern to Indigenous youth.

The meeting enabled the five young Australians to obtain input from Mr Ruddock for their projects prior to presenting their papers to the Government later this week (11 September) as part of the National Youth Roundtable.

Mr Ruddock offered his support for the projects, which addressed issues affecting Indigenous youth such as alcohol and drug use, school attendance rates and homelessness.

'I was very impressed with the work done by the participants. I believe that initiatives to raise youth issues are very important to the Australian community and are to be commended,' Mr Ruddock said.

The National Youth Roundtable, established by the Federal Government in 1999, brings together 50 15-to-24-year-old Australians to ensure that their views are taken into account in the policy-making process.

The young Australians were selected from approximately 800 applicants nationwide to participate in the roundtable, which was the most competitive application process in three years.

Tonya Booth, a 21-year-old horticulture student from the Gulf of Carpentaria, relished the opportunity to outline her project to the Minister and to speak about the importance of education in Indigenous communities.

'I am very interested in promoting the idea of economic independence for Indigenous people. Education is the key that will help them become the business managers, skilled labourers and professionals of their communities,' Tonya said.

'I am in the process of developing a workshop that encourages young Indigenous people to complete secondary schooling and potentially go on to further


'I am also looking at ways to make school life more enjoyable for Indigenous children so that they will want to continue their education.'

James Stanley, the 17-year-old recipient of last year's NAIDOC Indigenous Youth of the Year award, also enjoyed speaking to the Minister about the high rates of Indigenous young people not completing high school.

'I'm very keen to promote the importance of finishing school by endorsing the achievements of successful Indigenous high school graduates,' James said.

The other participants at the meeting will be John Maynard from Tasmania, Jayde Kelly from New South Wales and Anthony Ormond from Alice Springs.

Media Enquiries: Mr Ruddock's office: Jeremy Chitty 0418 971 042

9 September 2003