• (L-R) Isaiah Firebrace, Johnathan Thurston, Miranda Tapsell (NITV)Source: NITV
Is it all about the boy bands, the Kardashians and Snapchat for our young ones today?
Elinya Chenery, Brooke Tierney

3 May 2017 - 4:44 PM  UPDATED 3 May 2017 - 5:57 PM

Teenagers. You see them gathered at bus stops, food courts and places you're sure their parents wouldn't approve. They're constantly on their phones, bring their own personal flare to school uniforms and we're fairly confident they cared when Zayne left One Direction.

But is it all about the boy bands, the Kardashians and Snapchat for our young ones - who's inspiring our next generation?

NITV work experience student Elinya Chenery says that being an Indigenous teen in Australia today comes with all the ups-and-downs of being a teen in contemporary society, with the added bonus (and pressure) of trying to embrace your history and culture in a world that doesn’t always want you to.

"Whether it’s being told your history is simply that, and no longer relevant, or the moment when your culture is actually recognised and you feel so incredibly accepted and appreciated, being an Indigenous teen in 2017 never fails to make you feel different, and sometimes, immensely separated.

For this reason, Indigenous role models are an incredibly vital part of many Indigenous young people's lives, being both relatable and inspiring; these role models allow Indigenous teens to see themselves in achievement and leadership positions, and in that, gives the strongest feeling of acceptance imaginable."



"I'm Elinya, a Anaiwan woman and a full 5’3 worth of social justice fighting and memes, topped off with self-deprecating humour. I spend an unhealthy amount of time on the Internet crying over people I don’t know, playing netball (I’m way too competitive) and maintaining the energy to socialise with my friends as I procrastinate my responsibilities..."

My after school activities are...  Some days after I'll go to work until around 10pm, other days I will either have netball training or coaching, but generally I just go home and relax whilst putting off all responsibilities, which I'm confident is my main talent in life. 

I don't ever leave the house without... My phone and my charger as my phone has absolutely horrible battery and dies in 0.2 seconds. 

The soundtrack to my youth (up until now) would be... Dodie, Ed Sheeran, Halsey, Twenty One Pilots, Melanie Martinez, Panic! At the Disco and Troye Sivan. 

Older people don't seem to understand... I find that many older people (and yes, I know, "not all older people") don’t understand that younger people aren’t “making things up” or “being ignorant about the facts” when we are more accepting than previous generations. We aren’t 'creating' new genders or sexualities for example, we are simply talking about, validating and accepting of things that have always been there but have been denied, hidden and shunned by society.

My friends and I are all obsessed with... I’d like to say all my friends are obsessed with this, but in reality it’s only me and a few of my closer friends. We are obsessed with social media “stars”, namely Dan and Phil (Daniel Howell and Philip Lester). They are YouTuber’s (Google it) and the main reason I am happy, as well as the main reason I am always hysterical.


Indigenous role models who inspire me...

Miranda Tapsell

"The first time I saw Miranda Tapsell on the television, she was living my dream. A young Indigenous woman alike to myself, doing what she is she passionate about and being recognised for her talent. Being extremely interested in drama and acting myself, seeing such a strong, accomplished Indigenous woman pursuing her goals and achieving them genuinely inspires me to push myself for what I want in my life."

Terry Chenery

"My introduction to Terry Chenery came pretty early on in my life - he's my father and was present for my birth! Throughout my life I have held him on a pedestal; his corporate and personal achievements seeming unfathomable. Overtime, I have come to realise that these accomplishments are the product of hard work from an extremely dedicated, loving and committed man. He didn’t always have the best of everything, but through persistence and immense effort, he has achieved his goals of a great and valuable job, loving family and a happy life overall. His continued presence in my life inspires me to drive for the life I want to make for myself someday."

Isaiah Firebrace

"Isaiah Firebrace was introduced to me under pretty mundane circumstances - sitting with my family watching our nightly fix of Channel 7's The X Factor. Isaiah's influence, as well as his astounding voice, will have a lasting impression on me. While I have zero interest in singing, and am honestly quite terrible at it, seeing someone so young with such incredible talent, devotion and confidence will forever remind me to believe in myself and my abilities (albeit not singing), and serve as a reminder that as an Indigenous Australian I am able, accomplished and strong."



"My name is Brooke Tierney. I'm a 15-year-old Ngarrindjeri woman from Wollongong, NSW with a huge passion for NRL, specifically my team, the Wests Tigers, who I have supported my entire life. In the future, I hope to continue my passion for rugby league and become a sports journalist, as it's something I've wanted for a long time and I'm really determined to pursue it." 

My after school activities are... Depends. Sometimes I'll do homework, read a book, listen to music, watch a movie or a TV show, hang out with my friends or just play on my phone.

I don't ever leave the house without... My phone. That's the only way I can keep up with what's happening in the rugby league world, so I keep it with me pretty much all the time. 

The soundtrack to my youth (up until now) would be... Shawn Mendes, Jessica Mauboy, Ed Sheeran, 5 Seconds of Summer, Halsey, Little Mix, Twenty One Pilots and James Arthur. 

Older people don't seem to understand... That young people do suffer fear, even if it's slight. I understand that to get over certain fears, you need to face them, but sometimes older generations don't understand how much we need their help - because it's not always easy. 

My friends and I are all obsessed with... I don't really share that many obsessions with my friends, as I'm completely obsessed with Mitchell Moses, the Wests Tigers and the NRL in general. Most people think that's weird and they're more interested in more famous and well-known people. 


Indigenous role models who inspire me...

Johnathan Thurston 

"As a huge football fan, seeing Johnathan Thurston on the field every week is something that I really look forward to. He has had a huge influence on every player and fan of rugby league, not just because of the way he plays footy, but the little things he does and the way he represents his culture. One of the things I love about him is that he has Aboriginal designs and colours on his footy gear. He shows his dedication to the supporters when he gives his headgear to young fans at halftime and fulltime of a game and you only ever hear of these inspiring things Johnathan Thurston is doing for the rugby league world."

Jessica Mauboy

"Jessica Mauboy is doing fantastic things in the music and film industry and which inspires me, along with loads of other young women every day. Watching her sing live at the All Stars footy game in 2015 is something I will never forget. She is dedicated to what she does and loves who she is. I think she is a huge inspiration to all Indigenous young women because she shows that no matter who you are or where you come from you can still be you and do what you love."

Deborah Mailman 

"I first saw Deborah Mailman in The Sapphires and since then I've only seen her as an incredible woman. Deborah lives in my local area and once, I saw her when I was out with my dad. My dad introduced me to her and she was one of the most beautiful people I have met. Even though she is a well-known woman in Australia she still took the time to talk to me and give me a hug and because of that she is one of my biggest Indigenous inspirations."

Elinya and Brooke are both year 10 students and working and learning with NITV as work experience cadets. 

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