On Friday 16 November, The Victorian Indigenous Youth Advisory Council, known for almost 10 years as VIYAC, re-launched as the Koorie Youth Council.

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Jeanette Powell, launched a celebratory event at the Korin Gamadji Institute at the Richmond Football Club, which was attended by a diverse cross section of the community. Over 150 people enjoyed a performance by the Yung Warriors, Maurial Spearim, Lee Morgan and Nikki Ashby. Young members traveled from across the state to take part in a dance workshop run by Indigenous Hip Hop Projects, wowing the crowd before taking to the Koorie Photo Booth.

“The Koorie Youth Council is a vehicle for young Koories to express themselves and affect change,” said Greg Kennedy, Statewide Coordinator of the Koorie Youth Council.

“We know that traditionally, our Elders are the voice and leaders of our community. Whilst this is and must always be, with 60% of our population under the age of 25, the time is right for our young people to step up and show the community that we’re ready to lead the communities of tomorrow,” said Greg.

The Koorie Youth Council was established as VIYAC in 2003 and is today respected as a peak body for the representation of Aboriginal youth affairs in Victoria. The state-wide network is made up of volunteer Indigenous young people between 12 and 25 years who provide a voice to government and community on issues of importance to them.

“Even back in my day as Coordinator we used to talk about how VIYAC had become so much more than an advisory council, so now being called the Koorie Youth Council, it opens up so many opportunities for growth,” said Jade Colgan the first Statewide VIYAC Coordinator.

“I have seen many success stories come out of VIYAC and one that has really stuck in my mind was when Tim Kanoa, who was a member, took over from me as Coordinator. And before I left the role I remember a new member who had just joined up, that being Greg Kennedy who is now the current Coordinator. It is a really nice evolution that VIYAC created and which I am sure will be continued by members of the Koorie Youth Council,” said Jade.

Tim Kanoa, who in his time as Coordinator drove the re-branding said that, “At times we know that one voice can make a change but at other times we know that one voice is never enough. The Koorie Youth Council is about bringing voices together as a collective.”

The re-launch event was hosted by long standing member Clarisse Slater. “Many of our members are already future leaders in their own right and work hard to strengthen our communities. There is nothing more inspirational then being around like-minded people, whose unique stories and passions only heighten your own dreams for the future. This is what VIYAC has been to me and what I believe the Koorie Youth Council can be for future generations,” said Clarisse.

“I believe I speak for many members when I say that VIYAC has given me fond memories and amazing opportunities. These have helped shape me into a stronger individual, and more importantly, a stronger Aboriginal person,” said Clarisse.

The Koorie Youth Council is housed at the Korin Gamadji Institute or KGI, an Indigenous leadership and training institute at the Richmond AFL club. Belinda Duarte, AFL Woman of the Year and Director of the Korin Gamadji Institute spoke of the pride that she feels when seeing young Koories step into leadership roles, before introducing a dance group comprised of participants of the Korin Gamadji Institute’s REAL Camps and members of the Koorie Youth Council.

Essendon footballer and owner of Paybacks Record Nathan Lovett-Murray came on board as a Koorie Youth Council ambassador because he believes that “Young Koories need a voice, in Government decisions, an opportunity to express themselves and an opportunity to get together and have fun.”

The Koorie Youth Council is an independent organisation run under the umbrella of the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVic). The Koorie Youth Council acknowledges the support from partners: the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, the Korin Gamdji Institute, and the State of Victoria through the Community Support Fund.

Head to the Koorie Youth Council website for more information.