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Clive, Frankie --- "Unity in Diversity: The International Youth Parliament 2000" [2000] IndigLawB 75; (2000) 5(4) Indigenous Law Bulletin 19

Unity in Diversity:
The International Youth Parliament 2000

By Frankie Clive

As I flew over the Sydney Harbour, and veered toward the landing strip of the airport, I looked in awe at the size and activity of this city. All of my goals and objectives of attending the International Youth Parliament 2000 began to rise high in my mind. Hundreds of people, from hundreds of cultures, were here to share their many problems in the hope of finding a solution. It was a very sobering thought - I was on my way to the International Youth Parliament 2000 (‘the IYP2000’) to change the world.

I had the honour of being selected as a delegate to represent the Northern Territory at the IYP2000 that took place in Sydney between the 19 – 28 October 2000. IYP2000 was an initiative of Community Aid Abroad – Oxfam Australia and was an international youth declaration of the need to act together under the banner of equality and democracy.

I was one of 300 delegates from around the world and aside from being quite intimidated by the size of the whole parliament, was looking forward to the international interaction and global discussion. I felt immensely proud of being selected and excited about the opportunity to learn and to teach others but as a Torres Strait Islander I also felt obliged to represent indigenous issues, particularly those pertaining to Australia, in a balanced and strategic way.

The IYP2000 was structured around a number of formal and informal groupings:

I was a member of the Cultural Activism thematic group. Representation from across the globe within this thematic group was extremely diverse but the representation of indigenous delegates was impressive, far outweighing those in any of the other thematic groups. Indigenous representation included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, First Nation People of Canada, Native American Indians, Saami of Finland, Udmut of Russia, South American and East Timorese, just to name a few.

It was abundantly clear from the outset that indigenous issues cut across and were directly relevant to each and every issue and strategy arising within the Cultural Activism thematic group. The common issues within our thematic group were the ability to work with communities to promote participation and celebration of culture, as well as enforcing the right to strengthen and preserve our own culture and identity.

The working group that I had the utmost pleasure of being involved in was that of Culture and Identity. The facilitators of our working group were Mark Yettica-Paulson and Dameeli Coates who did an excellent job in focusing our issues and also giving us the freedom to speak our mind. It was very important that the environment in which we, as a working group, were to interact was comfortable, relaxing and gave everyone the opportunity to voice their opinion or share a story. This environment was provided, a true credit to our facilitators.

The Culture and Identity working group had many heated discussions about preservation of culture, land rights, human rights violations, appropriate education, all of which appeared to have stemmed from modernisation and globalisation.

As was stated in the IYP2000 Communique[1] containing the Parliament’s recommendations, maintaining, continuing and asserting cultural practice is essential to Culture and Identity. However, the group that planted the most indelible seed in my heart and of which I was so grateful to be a member was the Indigenous Caucus. The Caucus was lead by David Newham and Lisa Garrett and included delegates from Hungary, Canada, America, India, New Zealand, Australia, Africa as well as other countries. The Caucus provided a safehaven for the indigenous delegates and provided a space that allowed us to confidently share our culture and concerns that we had as people and delegates of the parliament. Throughout our meetings, we nominated and openly gave our support of several of the working group strategies, as well as share our stories and generally support each other.

Unfortunately, outside of the Caucus there were some differences in opinion and as a result a Positive Impact Statement[2] of the Indigenous Caucus was drafted, finalised and presented to the IYP2000 at its final sitting at the Sydney Opera House. I felt absolutely elated and totally privileged to be co-presenting the Statement, with my indigenous brother, Adam Lees, to the other delegates of the IYP2000.

The Statement firstly acknowledged the traditional owners of the land and then we, inter alia, requested compassion for our cause as indigenous people, acknowledged that all opinions are diverse, declared that there is always strength in youth provided that the past is acknowledged, as well as openly declaring our support of the issues of the other working groups – we were received and acknowledged with a standing ovation by the entire Parliament. I have never felt more proud to be indigenous and grateful to be sharing that moment with the rest of the world as I did when I was standing at that podium!

It may appear to the average person that most of the issues of the IYP2000 are issues that many experienced and highly qualified people have identified and attempted to address. The difference here is that it was ultimately up to the individual to implement plans and processes through Individual Action Plans. Individual delegates had to create an IAP that was capable of being implemented in their home country and some have already done so with resounding success.

I am currently working with my Geo-Cultural Group (IYP-Aussies) to create a radio documentary with Triple J on the issue of Culture and Identity. I will be looking particularly at the legal implications of identity, for example, the nexus between native title and land rights, and the stolen generation. This context of identity also covers cultural preservation and I will be researching indigenous intellectual property rights of our song, dance, medicine and other cultural practices.

The postscript to the IYP2000 is the International Advisory Board of which I am a member. The IAB’s role of operation is predominantly to:

There are four indigenous members on the IAB: myself (Torres Strait Islander), Evelin Ananya (India), Terry Young (Canada) and Chris Tooley (New Zealand).

I am very glad to be involved in the continuing operations of IYP2000 and through the experience have made and hope to retain friends from around the world. I have learnt many invaluable and important skills and hope to be able to share them with the generations of youth that follow me.

Finally, to all my Indigenous Brothers and Sisters out there, if ever an opportunity such as the one I experienced is presented to you, seize it, learn from it and never let it pass you by.

Mina Kapu Esso & Yawo

(Thank you very much and goodbye)

Frankie Clive is from the Aithkadal (crocodile) and Samuaugadawbuwai (emu) tribes of the Torres Strait Island of Saibai and is a fourth year student in the Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies at the Northern Territory University in Darwin.

[1] The International Youth Parliament 2000 Final Communique is available at The IYP2000 Communique includes records of proceedings and strategy outcomes, IAP’s of the delegates and the Global Strategies agreed upon from the Final Sitting of the Parliament.

[2] The Positive Impact Statement of the Indigenous Caucus will be available in the Final Communique and can be accessed from the same website referred to in note 1.

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