By Anthea Batsakis, YMCA Press Gallery

Young people from the Korin Gamadji Institute (KGI) are speaking out against the gross under-representation of Indigenous Australians in Victoria.

After a heated debate, the KGI team passed a bill in YMCA Youth Parliament that would add a mandatory Indigenous seat on every local council.

Sponsoring team member Naki Kadd said the team introduced the bill to increase environmental sustainability negotiations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

“It will provide a positive platform for Indigenous people to have a voice on issues impacting communities and decision making,” Kadd said.

Mental illness, family violence, drug and alcohol abuse and homelessness are some of the problems that Indigenous people face, according to Kadd.

“I believe that depending on the severity of the problem in each community, it should still be acknowledged and passed through a council,” she said.

“And that’s why it’s important we have Indigenous perspective.”

Young people from the Korin Gamadji Institute want better Indigenous representation to address inequality.

In the debate, the sponsoring team said it’s time change was enacted in Australia.

“True reconciliation is achieved not when things are done to or for my people, but with my people,” a sponsoring team member said.

New Zealand has had legislation in place similar to the students’ bill since 1867, where Maori seats are set aside at a federal and local level.

The Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins said she would support the bill, with the necessary amendments, if it came through the state parliament and if the broader aboriginal community called for it.

“It’s certainly something that has been on the agenda in regards to discussions for treaties,” she said.

“But to date the specific discussions around something like this have been around the full time employment of an aboriginal person in each council, more than an elected position.”

The KGI Youth Parliament team is proudly supported by the Victorian Electoral Commission.