SPEECH: National Indigenous Youth Parliament

May 31, 2017

Mr CONROY: (Shortland) (19:58): Last week I witnessed the occasion of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament and I want to speak about how important this initiative is and to thank the organisers of it, including the Australian Electoral Commission, and to congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on your role in overseeing their adjournment debates on Sunday. I hear they were very excellent contributions. I particularly want to pay tribute to the representative from my local area, Phoebe McIlwraith from Halekulani on the southern edges of my electorate. She is a passionate young woman who, besides going to high school, works one day a week volunteering as a literacy tutor in the local primary school. She is passionate about education. She was telling me about her dream to go to university to pursue a course in either education or communications and to start up a company focused on new media, but also to continue her education role.

That is one of the many stories that people witnessed from the youth parliament attendees. It fills my heart with joy to see so many passionate Indigenous kids who are really trying to make a difference. But I want to talk about something sad briefly in the moments left to me. I was told by the member for Newcastle, who has had a long connection with them through her work with the Indigenous community, that every year the Indigenous Youth Parliament is interrupted with news of a family member committing suicide, and that is a tragic story. It is a tragic incident. And the member for Newcastle was telling me that it is almost normalised, they almost expect it, such is the plague of suicide in some Indigenous communities around this country. It is a horrible symbol of the challenges that everyone in Australia and everyone in this chamber faces to really provide justice to Indigenous Australians.

I want to compliment everyone involved in the Indigenous Youth Parliament. I will be very happy to see them again next year and, hopefully, it will lead to bigger and better thing for everyone involved in such a worthy initiative.

House adjourned at 22 :00

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