USQ Fraser Coast student Samala Cronin is among 10 Australian Indigenous youth leaders selected to help build a school in Vanuatu next month.
“I’ve just found out that I’m going to Vanuatu for seven weeks on a volunteer program at a grass roots level,” Ms Cronin said recently.
She is among 10 people to be selected nationally to take part the program under Volunteers in Community Engagement (VOICE) in December.
“I’ll go to Sydney first for a week-long induction then be placed in home-stay within a Vanuatu community.”
The 23-year-old Butchulla/Woppaburra woman from Hervey Bay said she was “thrilled” to be selected and believes her political activities and ambition to become a native title lawyer helped with the application process.
“I’ve been an applicant on my family’s native title claim on Great Keppel Island near Yeppoon for the past two and a half years, which has inspired me to study law after I finish the USQ Tertiary Preparation Program (TPP) next month.”
Ms Cronin is a member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s Seed group, the nation’s first Indigenous youth climate network that is dedicated to sowing the seeds for youth-led action on climate change.
Early this month, Ms Cronin joined 50 young Indigenous leaders from throughout Australia to attend the nation’s first-ever Indigenous youth climate summit in Melbourne.
“Our discussions included the South Pacific islands that have a projected seven to 10 years left before being completely submerged due to rising sea water levels,” Ms Cronin said.
“People can say climate change isn’t real but these are traditional homelands they’ve lived on for thousands of years and now they’re going under water.
“The government is buying land in Fiji to relocate the people so they have somewhere to live.”
Ms Cronin also attended Oxfam Australia’s Straight Talk National Summit in Canberra in September, where about 60 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women came together to learn about the nation’s political system and form networks with each other and with the women of Federal Parliament.
“From there I was offered to spend a weeks’ internship under the Minister for Women’s Affairs. I met Indigenous athlete and politician Nova Peris (OAM) and had some wonderful talks with Greens Leader Christine Milne.”
Ms Cronin was also among 40 Queenslanders selected to attend the State Government’s Indigenous Youth Leadership Program in June.
“That six-day program was designed for Indigenous youths to develop leadership skills and learn about democratic processes,” she said.
“In June I also took part in the National Indigenous Youth Parliamentary Debate, delivering a speech in Parliament House.”
In other activities, Ms Cronin represented USQ in the National Indigenous Tertiary Education Student Games and a national poetry competition in which she placed third.
To participate in the VOICE program in Vanuatu, Ms Cronin needs to contribute $1000. She has raised $400 so far.
Anyone wishing to help Ms Cronin raise the remaining $600 is welcome to contact her on 0412 726 845.
Caption: USQ Fraser Coast’s student Samala Cronin is excited about volunteering in Vanuatu.