We are so proud of this young leader. Today Zara Byron represented Hastings Secondary College at the ACYP Childrens Parliament. She was very honoured to meet our local member, Leslie Williams, she was a little nervous, but as she settled into the day, she engaged asking lots of questions with fellow students from 93 regional schools via zoom.

 Please find below her speech she delivered today to the Youth Parliament.

ACYP inspires young people and to provide that spark. They focus on healthy living, empowering young people and social impact. Youth Parliament program nurtures young people and encourages them to lead, learn and connect to their community, and be advocates for causes that they are passionate about.

Wiyabu, hello for those who don’t know my name, I’m Zara Byron a year 10 student at Hastings Secondary College. I am a proud Birpai woman and I am honoured to speak to you today about the importance of cultural identity for aboriginal youth and their community. I am part of Sista Connections at Hastings Secondary College which is an indigenous girls program.

Together we come up with new ideas to make our College a connected place for our Aboriginal girls. We learn about different aspects about our cultures, early employment opportunities, how to run a successful business and connect with our fellow sisters with the help of Kelly, Brooke, Ange and two new Aboriginal trainees Leilani and Shelby.

In year 3, I had the chance to teach my primary school class about my Birpai culture, however they had no idea what it meant to be Aboriginal. At the time I didn’t know a lot about my culture but I knew how to tell our stories through dance, art and storytelling. I knew the importance of sharing those stories to other children so they could pass down to future generations. Culture rather than colour is the heart of Aboriginal identity.

We need to work with indigenous and non-indigenous people to generate change and showcase the importance of cultural identity for Aboriginal youth and their communities.

We can make a difference in our community by teaching children and adults how to read and write, about different Aboriginal cultures through story telling, school volunteering to help in our community, teaching on how to start a business or early employment for our youth, encourage celebrations, indigenous language and identity.

I would encourage inviting community members to share their stories about their cultural background, what they have learnt and what they have been taught by their elders.

These acts can lead to more opportunities to connect and acknowledge Aboriginal people as part of our community everyday. A community where our youth have a better understanding of indigenous history, where we come from and who we are.

Marrumbu - thank you