By Gabriella Payne.
The team from the Korin Gamadji Institute (KGI) have successfully passed their Bill in the YMCA Youth Parliament program today, paving the way for better drug education in Victorian secondary schools.
Olivia Bonanno, Joseph Yugumbari, Bek Lasky and Anaika Havea, came together through the Indigenous Leadership Program at KGI.
This program, run by Richmond Football Club gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth a chance to develop their leadership skills and cultural connections, while meeting like-minded young people in the process.
KGI has been involved with the YMCA Youth Parliament since 2013, a program which gives young people aged 16-25 an opportunity to voice their opinions in Victorian politics and to affect real change.
Since the program started 32 years ago, more than 25 bills from the YMCA Youth Parliament have gone on to become legislation.
“It’s really empowering just to get our voice out there, for our people,” said Joseph.
The whole team are passionate about Indigenous culture, family and community and
strongly believe in looking out for the generations of students to follow.
They are hoping to affect positive change with their Bill, by raising awareness about the issues surrounding drug use and providing a solution to the problem.
“Normally you’re exposed to the ‘drugs are bad, don’t do them’ education,” said Olivia, “but no one ever really tells you what to do if you’re faced with them”.
Drugs often have a “backhanded impact on the users loved ones” said Bek, “this affects
friends, family and the wider community in many ways”.
By implementing compulsory drug education in Victorian secondary schools and improving the curriculum, the team believe Victoria will take a step towards eliminating drug use across the state.
“It affects everyone, no matter what social class or minority you come from,” said Anaika, “and as a secondary student, I can strongly say that I am uneducated in drugs”.
Issues such as reducing the number of Indigenous youth in detention, inclusion of Indigenous history in Victorian school curriculum and providing better education for remote Indigenous communities were also discussed during the adjournment debate in the YMCA Youth Parliament.
“We value this opportunity,” said Bek, “Indigenous representation is so important to us.”
The KGI students’ bill will now be passed on to the Victorian Government for consideration to be made into legislation.
Photos to come.