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First Nations Youth Forum 2024

31 May 2024 - Youth Parliament

Acknowledgment to Country

The Y NSW and Reconciliation NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which the First Nations Youth Voice Forum was held, the Gadigal people. We pay respect to Elders past and present, as they hold the knowledge, language, physical and spiritual connections to Country. We pay respects and acknowledge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander attendees and their connections to the lands to which they are linked to.

We especially like to acknowledge and pay respect to the First Nations young people who attended the forum as they graciously allowed us into their space and shared their knowledge.


On 30 January 2024, young people and industry leaders gathered on Gadigal Country at Yirranma Place, Darlinghurst for the First Nations Youth Voice Forum, a collaboration between the Y NSW and Reconciliation NSW. The forum’s aim was to amplify the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young peoples, and create a space for genuine connection, reflection and discussion between these young people and key stakeholders. The forum aligns with the Y NSW Child and Youth Voice strategy and Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.

The forum was planned and led by the Y NSW’s First Nations Youth Reference Group which set the agenda for the event, decided on what questions would be used as prompts during roundtable discussions, and led discussions. Members from the 2023 Youth Parliament Aboriginal Affairs Committee presented their Bill Bayala, Ngara Wingara (Speak, Listen and Think), and other First Nations young people performed at the event.

Roundtable Discussions

  1. How can organisations incorporate First Nations young people perspectives into their organisations?
  2. How can organisations and the government ensure the voices of First Nations young people are heard and reflected in policy?
  3. How can we improve outcomes for First Nations young people across Australia?
  4. What does it look like when First Nations Youth Voices are being heard and valued? What else can organisations do to make this happen?
  5. How do we keep the work going?

Recommendations That Emerged

1. First Nations Young People's Voices Are Heard and Valued

  • Offer employment opportunities to First Nations Young People.
  • Approach young people in their space to consult and work in ways that are comfortable and appropriate for them.
  • Provide support to rural and regional young people to access opportunities to amplify youth voice, much like opportunities given to metropolitan young people.
  • Government and non-government organisations should recognise the input of young people and compensate them for their time and knowledge. 
  • Enhance and upskill young people's leadership skills through mentorship and internship opportunities. 
  • Acknowledge that young people are experts and measure outcomes based on the issues and concerns they identify during consultations. 
  • Fully structured and meaningful Youth Action Group for First Nations young people in both government and non-government organisations to ensure diverse voices are heard and valued. 

2. Organisations and Leaders Demonstrate Accountability

  • Agree on meaningful and impactful outcomes, effectively track progress and feedback.
  • Constant communication and feedback to young people on how their voices have made an impact. 
  • Leaders of organisations understand the importance of youth voice, and properly demonstrate it in their work.
  • Diverse representation should be seen as valuable and meaningful, not just as a 'tick-box'. 
  • Reflect, review, and improve processes based on feedback.

3. Non-Indigenous Organisations, Including Government, Commit to Including First Nations Young People's Voices

  • Organisations should educate their staff on best practices and guiding principles when working with First Nations Communities, to ensure cultural safety is maintained and continued. 
  • Work in partnerships with First Nations-led community organisations.
  • Organisations should have constant and meaningful consultancy with young First Nations Peoples in relation to the work they are doing and make changes based on feedback. 

4. Invest In Community

  • Non-Indigenous organisations and government amplifying the work and outcomes of First Nations-led community organisations.
  • Minimum five-year funding cycle in the community service sector. 
  • Financially support First Nations young people to access opportunities - especially regional and rural young people.

At the Y NSW, we believe in the power of inspired young people, and this forum was a shining example of what can happen when young people are given space to speak and truly be heard.

The Y NSW and Reconciliation NSW would like to thank all the leaders who attended the forum, those who represented both government and non-government organisations. Special thanks and acknowledgments to the 2023 Youth Parliament Aboriginal Affairs Committee for presenting their Bill Bayala, Ngara Wingara (Speak, Listen and Think), and to our First Nations Youth Reference Group for their support and consultation, and for graciously inviting everyone to listen, learn and share the space together.

Image: The Y NSW Youth Parliament participants and Taskforce with The Hon. Benjamin Franklin, President of the Legislative Council.

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