• Koorie Youth Summit 2018 (NITV)Source: NITV
Sovereignty, building decision-making skills, and more spaces for young mob were the focus at day one of the fifth annual Koorie Youth Summit.
Rachael Hocking

14 Jun 2018 - 8:52 AM  UPDATED 14 Jun 2018 - 8:52 AM

Six years ago the idea that a youth organisation could bring together hundreds of young Koories from across Victoria to share ideas and form connections was "just a dream". 

In 2018, and with the Summit in its fifth year, Koorie Youth Council (KYC) Manager Indi Clarke says that dream has been realised.

"I was a delegate at the very first Summit, and I remember walking away and messaging the manager asking 'how can I get involved with KYC?' I'll never forget that moment, just meeting so many deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," he said. 

This year the rooms of the Pullman Hotel in the heart of Melbourne will host Yorta-Yorta man and musician Briggs, social justice advocates from overseas and a panel on women, to honour the NAIDOC theme 'Because of Her, We Can'. 

Speaking at day one of the Summit, Associate Professor Gregory Phillips, called for more spaces like the one created by the Summit.

"If I was a Minister... I would support Aboriginal young people," he said. 

"If we don't have these spaces, how are we going to learn our culture, language, how will we look after the country?" 

A key focus of the past four summits has been on creating room for young peoples' voices to be heard, and ways for them to participate in decision-making on issues that affect them. 

This advocacy has seen the KYC partner with the peak body for young people in Victoria, YACVic, to deliver a mentoring program called Marram Nganyin. 

Indi Clarke says in 2018 they have gone one step further, securing a $100,000 investment from the state government to go towards governance workshops for young people aged 18-28 across the state.

The workshops, run by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), will focus on building practical skills.   

"For me, it's the future of Aboriginal organisations and the future of Aboriginal decision-making processes," Indi said. 

"It's a really great way for young people who are from rural and regional communities to know what it is to make  decision-making processes led by them, and led by community."

"We talk about governance as in the western notion, but our communities are built out of strong governance. And it's about that, it's the cultural element: 60 thousand years of it."

Many young people in the room told NITV News that it was the work of their Ancestors and Elders that has helped them to find their voice. It was fitting, then, that after her Welcome to Country, Aunty Di Kerr encouraged the delegates to take up their roles as the leaders of tomorrow.

"We need all of you, because we have a young community," she said.