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NT Youth Week Ambassadors

Meet three of the 2018 NT Youth Week Ambassadors.

Gabby Yengbie, 17, is representing Darwin and Palmerston this Youth Week. The young leader is school captain at O’Loughlin Catholic College this year and she’s passionate about helping out in the community wherever she can. 

What is being an NT Youth Week Ambassador all about? 
It means making the opportunities and events in Youth Week known to everyone so they can be part of the community. 

NT Youth Week’s theme is ‘Be Tru, Be You’ – what does this mean to you? 
I think it’s about being every aspect of yourself and not worrying what other people think about you. It’s the courage to be the full extent of who you are and reaching your potential, but it’s also about encouraging people around you to be who they are and realising what makes you different makes you stronger.

Hot tips for Youth Week? 
The Palmy Pool Party and Couch Surfing.

Why should people get involved? 
It might not seem like something you’d normally get involved in, but once you’re there you’ll have a great time. It’s not just about the activities; it’s about meeting new people and being inspired.

What are the biggest issues affecting youth in the Darwin and Palmerston area? 
I think kids get into trouble because they don’t have anything else to do. That’s why events like Youth Week are great because 
its about getting involved in new things.

Finally – what’s the best thing about growing up in the Territory?
It’s the atmosphere and the multicultural community. We’re so laid back and it’s really easy to be part of a close community because everyone is so accessible. And of course the weather!

Ineke Wallis, 23, from Nhulunbuy has accomplished an incredible amount in her 23 years on this planet. She shared Australia’s Indigenous culture with the Queen in 2012, has participated in the NT Youth Round Table, the National Indigenous Youth Parliament, and spoke to the United Nations about Indigenous human rights. 

What’s the best thing about growing up in the Territory? Learning the Indigenous culture and getting out bush and going fishing and hunting. There’s a lot of freedom up here compared to other parts of the world where people have to travel around through traffic lights and take ages to get anywhere. 

You’ve done some amazing things in your life so far and in 2016 you spoke at the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva – what was that experience like? 
It was an amazing experience. I met such amazing people advocating for Indigenous human rights from the 60s and 70s. I spoke about the issues in my community and compared them to issues in other communities and how I would like to see everyone healthy and wealthy and living a happy life – and I will fight for that.

What are some of the issues affecting youth in Nhulunbuy?
For Indigenous people, there are high incarceration rates, high suicide rates and not a lot of people attending school, but on the other side we have amazing youth that are intelligent with incredible abilities, especially in sport and arts.

You’re a dancer, tell us why dance  is important to you and how it helps create change in your community? 
I’ve travelled out to the communities and worked with youth teaching dance classes – it’s a way to get messages across. It’s part of the culture up here, and it’s been part of the culture for more than 80,000 years. Music and dance and singing are ways to connect and communicate with young people.

What would you like young people to know for Youth Week? 
I’m such an open person, come up and talk to me about anything –  I’m always here to speak to people.

Leah Sharp, 18, has lived in Katherine for four years – the longest she’s ever lived anywhere. She loves the place and the people so much that when her parents moved to Townsville two years ago she waved them farewell so she could finish out her schooling with her peers.

What’s life like for young people in Katherine?
It can be challenging sometimes – I think we sometimes feel like we’re stuck in an ongoing cycle of school and work and the same things to do all the time and not much new happens. But also, living in Katherine is really insightful and valuable as well because not only do we have amazing landscape you can’t find anywhere else, we also have this multiculturalism at school that is an insight for a lot of young people for what the world is like.
You were on the Youth Round Table last year – tell us what you wanted to see changed in Katherine.
Katherine as a town and the schools within it are very different to all the other schools in the NT. I think in a lot of cases all the kids are under the same umbrella but we’re really all so diverse, so there’s not one solution to a problem that’s going to work for everyone. There’s still a big disconnect between young people and the decisions made about them, which is what I addressed on the Round Table last year.
What are some of the strengths shown by Katherine kids?
I think the kids here and my peers are very resilient, we’ve had a lot of setbacks at school. We’re at maximum capacity and more and more kids coming from community – which is fantastic – but resources are stretched. We don’t have a lot but we’re making the most of it.
Who are some of your peers doing great things?
Phoebe Hooper – my closest friend – is the founder of the Keep Talking organisation. It’s mainly to highlight and support the LGBTI community but also involves everyone. It aims to show we have a lot in common and we can always find that common ground, and makes sure that everyone can feel like they belong. 
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