As the dust settles on the federal election, a group of students from the Eden area are calling on Australians to vote in another kind of election.
Eliza Turner, Zac Watson, Courtney Maher and Shaquille Aldridge from Eden Marine High School, and Joelene Lalara from Lumen Christi Catholic College have written and recorded the speech they would make if they were to become the first Indigenous Prime Minister of Australia.
The students are running in The Other Election – and they’re in with a fighting chance, having reached the top 100 from the initial pool of more than 600 promising candidates across Australia.
Candidates crafted their speeches as part of workshops run by the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), a charity that connects 2000 Indigenous high school students with 1,000 university student mentors across five states.
The students are now campaigning to make it into the top 10, who will polish their speech in workshops with industry experts in Sydney on 19-20 September.
From there, the final three candidates will deliver their speech in Canberra this October.
“It’s pretty incredible to see what these kids have achieved,” said Me Mitchell. “They were only given two hours, some students an hour, to write and record their address to the nation and imagine what’s possible for this country.”
Eliza Turner hopes to eradicate bullying, unfortunately having experienced it herself.
“I have been bullied my whole life and I know what it feels like to be an outsider. I just want you to know you’re not alone and I’ll always be there for you as PM,” said Eliza.
Joelene Lalara is passionate about ensuring Indigenous people have access to education, nutrition and opportunities and describes having to travel far to get them.
AIME ambassador and former Olympian champion, Ian Thorpe, said The Other Election is a chance to vote for the future leaders of our country.
“By voting inThe Other Election we stand together with these inspirational Indigenous kids who have raised the bar to offer a vision for the future filled with hope, positivity and greatness,” said Mr Thorpe. “Together we can see an Indigenous Prime Minister in our lifetime and an Australia where no child gets left behind.”
AIME CEO, Jack Manning Bancroft, who founded AIME nine years ago as a 19-year-old university student, said that AIME has plans to reach 10,000 Indigenous high school students across Australia each year by 2018 – roughly one quarter of the Indigenous high school population.
“If 500 Indigenous kids can write, rehearse and record their vision for Australia in just two hours; if a little mentoring program that started with 25 kids in Redfern and ran off the smell of an oily rag can grow to work with 2,000 kids across the nation; if we can see Indigenous kids finishing school at the same rate as every Australian kid and shattering the mould that has been cast for them, then just imagine what’s possible,” Mr Mitchell said.
AIME was founded in 2005 with the goal to see Indigenous educational equality. Over the last four consecutive years, AIME students have finished school at almost the same rate as every Australian child.
In 2012, the year 9 to university progression rate for AIME students was 22.1 percent – nearly six times the national Indigenous average of 3.8 percent and approaching the national non-Indigenous average of 36.8 percent.
Watch Courtney Maher's speech here
Watch Eliza Turner's speech here
Watch Shaquille Aldridge's speech here
Watch Zac Watcon's speech here
Watch Joelene Lalara's speech here