Young people and PBCs
This information is for young people interested in native title and for PBCs looking to involve young people in their business and activities.
It is very important for young people to have ongoing involvement in the work of their PBC or native title claim. Below are some ideas for youth engagement and some of the programs available to help grow leadership skills within the native title sector.
Each community has their own perspective on what age range or level of knowledge and experience constitutes youth and, therefore, the information on this page is kept broad. Some examples of successful PBCs and their methods to get young people involved are shared below. The How to get involved with PBCs workbook for youth and the Communicating with youth workbook for PBC provide useful resources and tips on starting this process.
Why is youth involvement important?
Young people make up a significant proportion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and are the future leaders of PBCs and other community organisations. In order to harness their skills and perspective and prepare them for leadership and decision-making roles in PBCs, investment in mentoring and training is key. Cultural, corporate and native title knowledge transmission to the younger generation as well as succession planning will ensure the sustainability of PBCs.
AIATSIS has researched how youth is experiencing native title. The results can be found in the ‘What do young fellas reckon? Exploring the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in native title’ paper.
AIATSIS identified that many young native title holders and claimants already possess a good understanding of the native title system, whether they live on country or not. They are eager to be involved in native title and take up leadership and decision-making roles in the future. Despite this, they often feel disconnected from their native title organisations and feel that they do not have the skills or knowledge they need to contribute to their native title claims or PBCs. PBCs have a crucial role to play in engaging and inspiring young people, and helping the transfer of power and knowledge from generation to generation.
Engaging young people can also be highly beneficial to PBCs. Young Indigenous Australians increasingly pursue tertiary education and employment away from country. The Closing the Gap Report 2020 notes that the proportion of Indigenous 20–24 year-olds who completed Year 12 has increased from 45 per cent in 2008, to 66 per cent in 2019. This means young people are equipped with formal educational skills and expertise that can be invested back into their local community.
The fresh insight and perspective that young people can bring to their native title organisations should also be respected and harnessed. Combining the new skills of the younger generations with the knowledge and experience of elders is key to community wellbeing and ensuring that PBCs can manage their native title interests and do the work they aspire to.
With opportunity and guidance to do so, young people can use their native title to continue down the path of sustainable self-determination. As the Uluru Statement from the Heart said, young Indigenous Australians should be the hope for the future.
Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are ready and eager to be involved in native title and the various activities that their PBCs engage in, but need to be armed with the skills, knowledge and connections to do so. With the support, training and mentoring of PBCs, young people will become the next generation of leaders. The first step is engagement.
Models of youth engagement
There are many ways to engage young people, both formal and informal. The following models provide guidance and are adaptable to your local community.
The great diversity of cultures, languages, kinship structures and ways of life among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia is reflected in young people This means local approaches to engagement are essential. Although state, territory or national level training can be beneficial, youth engagement should be tailored to the local context to ensure its success. This is also important as young people value and get a lot out of working and learning on country. It is therefore mutually beneficial for PBCs and young people to create opportunities on country.
PBCs planning on working more with their young people should ask:
- Have we talked to our young people and asked them how they want to be involved?
- Are we already doing things to engage young people of our area in PBC related work?
- How can these be expanded or what new projects can we start to increase youth engagement?
- Do these or will these methods meet the specific needs of youth in our area?
Gradually introducing young people to decision-making processes can build interest and comfort in long-term participation. Also, the more varied the approaches, the more young people will be engaged. This means that a range of methods and developing involvement over time is the best way to ensure long term engagement from a wide number of young people.
A lack of resources can be a barrier engaging youth for some PBCs. Consider how to use existing resources and expertise, and which methods use the least resources. For example, incorporating young people into events or activities your PBC already does may be the easiest and most practical place to start.
There is no set age for starting involvement in a PBC. Murdi Paak young leader Isabelle Orcher says that people should be involved from as young as possible as exposure to community governance can create positive learning experiences and opportunities.
Watch Isabelle Orcher talk about the organisation’s young leaders program and succession planning.