The Cape York Leaders Program, or CYLP, provides Cape York youth with opportunities for secondary and tertiary education. It also enhances their innate leadership qualities and equips them with the skills needed to return to their communities, as young adults, who can bring about meaningful change. Within CYLP is the Academic Leaders initiative, which pairs motivated Indigenous students with scholarships to reputable secondary schools and universities. Maintaining strong connections to culture, family and home communities is an integral component of the initiative, as is forging new friendships and opportunities for mentorship. The students have diverse perspectives, ambitions, and values. Our ‘Emerging First Nations Leaders’ series gives a space and a platform for their voices.
Ackron Gavin is an Indigenous student from the remote Cape York town of Rossville. She is currently completing her Year 11 studies at Stuartholme School in Brisbane and has participated with CYLP since 2017. Ackron described herself as being shy when she started with CYLP. She is now a self-assured young woman who led much of the discussion when the CYLP Student Support Officer came to visit her and her peers to discuss their school report cards.
What was your life like growing up in Rossville?
Home is nice. There aren’t many people there, so you kind of know everybody. When I go home, I like to go fishing and camping, and I like spending time with my family.
Because it’s a small place there aren’t many opportunities for education.
Why did you choose to apply for a scholarship with CYLP?
I thought it would give me a good opportunity in life and it would really benefit my learning. I knew there would be more opportunities for my education through CYLP. My older brother was part of the program, so my dad encouraged me to be a part of it too.
I was really shy when I started with the program. I kept to myself a lot on my first CYLP camp, but the CYLP staff really helped me to come out of my shell. Adjusting to living far away from home was hard too. I used to get homesick, and I had to learn to be more independent. But the Student Support Officers help a lot with that.
I don’t really feel homesick anymore. Over the years I think I have become more comfortable meeting new people and other CYLP students. Making new friends helps to overcome homesickness too.
What things do you enjoy most about being involved with CYLP?
Definitely the camps and the term events. We get to do a lot of fun activities and workshops on those. Sometimes we visit interesting places too.
After I graduate school, I’d like to come back to the CYLP camps as part of the alumni.
I think the additional opportunities that CYLP brings have been beneficial, such as opportunities for additional courses, certificates and tutoring.
What do you like about Stuartholme School?
I have grown to be more independent since I started studying here. The school has a really great community, and everyone is friendly and encouraging.
I made friends pretty quickly when I came here in Year 7. I’d also met a lot of the other students on the CYLP camp at the start of that year, which made things easier for me.
I was surprised by the amount of help and encouragement I’ve received here, because I thought it was going to be a lot stricter than it is, but it’s actually pretty fun.
I didn’t expect to be able to complete sporting diplomas and courses in childcare, so some of the study options here have surprised me too.
When I go home, my family and friends are very curious about my experiences down here in Brisbane. They ask a lot of questions.
"...the additional opportunities that CYLP brings have been beneficial, such as opportunities for additional courses, certificates and tutoring."
- Ackron Gavin
What would you like to do once you’ve finished school?
I’m not too sure yet. I like it down here, so I might look to go to university. I’m also thinking of working in childcare.
What leadership skills have you learnt since being a part of CYLP and who is your role model?
I’ve learnt to support other people, and to be encouraging for others.
My older brother is my role model because he is an outgoing person. I think he’s a good leader because he is always there to help people. He’s always open to having a chat.
In your opinion, what behaviours does a good leader display?
A good leader includes other people and their opinions. A good leader doesn’t judge other people just because they have different opinions.
If I become a leader, I’d like to be someone who is helpful.
What is the best advice that you’ve received since being involved with CYLP?
To believe in yourself and be the best that you can be. Negative thoughts can sometimes stop you from being the best person you can be.
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Funds raised by the Our Sisters campaign will go toward secondary and tertiary scholarships for Cape York girls.