Welcoming new Youth Reference Group members

In June last year, The Healing Foundation (THF) sought young First Nations peoples to join the Youth Reference Group (YRG). In mid-March 2023, nine new members were welcomed into the group, joining the existing five members.

The YRG members provide a strong and collective voice for young people who are descendants of Stolen Generations Survivors. They advise, assist and collaborate with The Healing Foundation, the Board and the Stolen Generations Reference Group on best ways to represent young people’s perspective and priorities for healing. The YRG assist THF in engaging First Nations youth and help lead the national conversation about intergenerational healing.

Ellen Karimanovic, an existing member, says, “I applied to be part of the YRG to learn, share and be a part of change surrounding the much-needed work to support the Stolen Generations. I want to be a part of intergenerational healing and believe that we as young people hold the responsibility to continue the work of those who were removed. The impact on our families and communities is far reaching and I want to contribute to the healing journey of our families.” Ellen is a proud Worimi woman, whose connection to Country is the Port Stephens region of NSW, who grew up and continues to live in Western Sydney on the lands of the Darug people.

The new members who joined the group in 2023 are: Eric Toby, Isobel Morphy-Walsh, Jacinta Onus, Jaylene Hill-Kickett, Karlie Stewart, Kirsten Tapine, Madeline Wells, Seleena Blackley, and Tarlee Leondaris. They joined the existing YRG members Harry Williams, Blake Tatafu, Ellen Karimanovic,, Anna Murphy and Amanda Fotheringham.

Madeline Wells, one of the new members, is a Palawa and Koorie queer woman living in Nipaluna, Lutruwita. Madeline has a background working and volunteering in the education and arts sectors,  as well as grassroots campaigning and organising. She is part of The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA)’s First Nations Governance Group and part of Lutruwita’s Firesticks Alliance Mentoring Program as an Associate Indigenous Fire Practitioner. Madeline is currently working at Culture is Life as a Programs Officer.

“I appreciate spaces created by and for First Nations people to learn, share and collaborate together,” Madeline says. “Especially spaces centred around healing, truth telling, and justice.” Madeline is look forward to working with mob from other communities, “To strengthen our connections, and contribute to the aspirations of the Healing Foundation.”

Fiona Cornforth, THF CEO, welcomes the addition of new members to the YRG, saying “…the young leaders represent a wave of energy that builds on the legacy of past and outgoing members. I look forward to drawing on their energy to create opportunities of impact for young people across all nations, on this continent and beyond”.

This group of Youth Healing Ambassadors advocate for their elders and for themselves. They continue to elevate Survivor and descendant experiences of trauma and intergenerational trauma as well as resilience, survival and intergenerational healing.

As the YRG move forward together, Ellen says, “I’m excited to continue this important work, such as season two of the ‘Healing Our Way’ podcast, being present at significant events as a representative of The Healing Foundation and collaborating through YRG meetings with other like-minded young people.”

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