By MELISSA WELLHAM
Statistics surrounding issues such as education, welfare and life expectancy are sometimes alarmingly low for Indigenous Australians – this is common knowledge.
But we don’t often hear about – or pause to celebrate – the steps forward that are being made. A report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this year shows that over the past three years there has been a steady increase in the number of Indigenous students staying on to Year 12. For the first time, Australia is seeing more than 50 per cent of Indigenous students staying in school and finish Year 12.
Another thing that isn’t heard frequently in political debate about Indigenous issues? The voices of Indigenous students themselves.
The Other Election is looking to change that. An initiative run by AIME, The Other Election is an online competition that sought submissions from Indigenous students around Australia – asking students in Years 10 to 12 to deliver a speech, as if they were the first Indigenous Prime Minister.
These young people wrote, rehearsed and recorded their speeches themselves – and it’s truly inspirational stuff. Some of these kids have overcome adversity to get an education, and in their speeches they reveal a vision for a better Australia where no one else has to struggle for the same right.
These young people speak eloquently about their lives and their love of Australia – as well as how they are made to feel, on occasion, like outsiders.
Danae H from the Wyndham Central College in Victoria is one of the top 10 finalists in the competition. In her speech, she says that, “As a young Indigenous woman, I also feel stereotyped in a negative way. So many times when I have told someone I am Indigenous, their whole perspective of me changes.”
“To them, I’m suddenly an illiterate, uneducated alcoholic, who sits around sniffing petrol,” Danae says. “At these times, I feel little. I am made to feel less than everyone else. I am put in a situation where I am made to feel bad about myself.”
Another one of the finalists is Shannon H is from the Warnbro Community High School is Western Australia. In his speech, he shares his thoughts about the Australia he knows – as well as his place in it.