Strong leaders and continuity of leadership are essential elements of healthy PBCs. It is important that young future leaders are identified and supported through education, training, mentoring and employment opportunities to be involved in the governance of PBCs. Involving youth in PBC governance can be challenging. In some Indigenous communities, the participation of younger people in governance and decision making is not considered culturally appropriate. Younger people may also feel shy and intimidated to accept leadership roles in organisations, or feel it is inappropriate, or disrespectful to involve themselves in decision making.
Ways in which young people can be prepared to be future leaders of PBCs may include:
- encouraging young people to attend meetings and become members of PBCs
- staggering board elections so that directors step down progressively, ensuring there is always a pool of knowledge and experience on the board and allowing for the mentoring of new directors by more experienced board members
- elders supporting young people to develop their self-confidence
- providing young people with role models and leadership mentoring opportunities
- providing governance training and education
- focusing on developing a supportive and respectful relationship between young people and current leaders
- developing internships for Indigenous youth within PBCs
- educating young people about the history and politics of Indigenous rights and self-determination
- creating youth specific governance initiatives and allowing them to be ‘youth driven’
- establishing youth-led forums and networks to identify issues and how relevant issues might be addressed (for useful resources: AIATSIS and AIGI).
AIATSIS is leading a research project on youth in governance and political process exploring how young Indigenous people engage, participate and design pathways leading into governance and policy making spaces in their communities, regions and states or territories. This project is ongoing and produced publications on youth in native title and a report on the Indigenous youth forum.
Written by Michael Cawthorn, consultant anthropologist.
The Yawuru Native Title Holders Aboriginal Corporation experience
The Yawuru people are the native title holders of Yawuru country, the lands and seas in and around Broome. Yawuru have developed succession training and strategies for their young people to protect their development and their country in the future. Thomas Edgar and Peter Yu speak about the involvement of youth in the PBC business and programs.