Lives of young indigenous Australians turned around

Kerrilee Lampton from Australia on her visit to the UK

Kerrilee Lampton is an 18-year-old indigenous Australian working towards her Gold Award as well as mentoring young Award participants through their individual programmes. She came to the UK, leaving Australia for the first time, to speak with Award supporters and funders about the difference the Award has made to her life.

The Award changed my life by giving me the confidence necessary to take up new opportunities in my life. I was very shy before I participated in the Award. I never could have imagined that I could stand in front of a group of strangers and speak publicly as I did at the Special Projects supporters' dinner. It gave me the confidence to be able to travel on a large plane for the first time and travel to England but most importantly it has given me the skills to become a role model to other indigenous disadvantaged youth and help inspire them to be all that they can be in their lives.

Kerrilee Lampton with her cousin EdwardOverall in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up 4.5% of the population however are 19 times more likely to end up in prison compared to non-indigenous people. In Queensland, the state I am from, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up 10.7% of the total population and also make up a quarter of the total prison population. In North Queensland we have a youth detention centre for males. One third of the inmates come from Cairns, my home town. We have a prison called Lotus Glen prison, which is located close to Cairns. Three quarters of the prisoners are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Transforming lives

The future prospects for many indigenous youth in my community of Cairns are not good, however we are touching and transforming their lives with the Award. The pastor at my church said the seed for success lies in every young indigenous person. The Award is helping us to water that seed and nurture the plant to grow into a tall tree.

The Award is giving us greater capacity to see the lives of young indigenous people turned around and for them to go on to become wonderful Australians who the right to aspire to the same dreams, and the same quality of life that the rest of us take for granted.

Watch this video to see how Special Projects funding is enabling hard-to-reach young people from diverse backgrounds take part in the Award.

You can also read about Kerrilee's cousin, Edward, and his experiences of being an indigenous Australian Award Leader and role model.