The voice of her generation

Published on 30 May 2017

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An inspirational young Indigenous woman from the City of Swan was among 50 young politicians who made their way to Canberra for the National Indigenous Youth Parliament (NIYP).

In a busy weekend of politics, Brianne Yarran, 18, spoke out about the issues affecting her community, and shared her grandmother’s experience as a child of the Stolen Generation.

The Bennet Springs local rubbed shoulders with the nation’s top political leaders including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, leader of the opposition Bill Shorten and Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove.

Brianne said her first trip to Canberra and Old Parliament House, where the Australian 1967 Referendum was approved, was a moving experience.

“It has been really emotional and tough because we have been faced with many historical places where things have changed,” she said.

 “It takes us back to a time where there were hardships, but as young politicians we can try to change what happened and move forward for the better of Australia.”

The NIYP was held over 27-28 May during National Reconciliation Week, which commemorated the anniversaries of the 1967 Referendum and the historic Mabo decision.

It took place in the former House of Representatives chamber where participants were able to experience the parliamentary process. They debated various bills and made an adjournment speech in an eventful week-long program.

Brianne’s adjournment speech focussed on the Stolen Generation and called for truthful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education in school curriculums.

Her second debate refuted a bill improving access to alcohol and drug rehabilitation services in rural and remote areas.

The debates took place just weeks away from NAIDOC week, which celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  

Brianne said this year’s NAIDOC week theme, Our Languages Matter, was incredibly significant to her.

She explained how her grandmother was placed in a mission and was not allowed to speak her native Noongar language due to laws at the time.

“I think it was a time where the Noongar language kind of faded away,” she said.  

“A lot of non-Indigenous people have never heard the Noongar language, and when they hear it for the first time they think it’s the most incredible thing in the world.

 “It’s my generation and the future generations that are rebuilding the language and we are re-teaching indigenous people and also non-indigenous people.”

Brianne praised local schools and the City of Swan for recognising and talking about important Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander events.

“That’s what the City of Swan is doing. They are really encouraging with the events they are doing and are raising awareness of issues that are still occurring,” she said.

The City will be hosting a NAIDOC week event at the Cale Street event Space in Midland on July 4, 2017.