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.
Dwayne Ludwick is an Indigenous student from the Cape York town of Hope Vale. He is currently completing his Year 12 studies at Marist College Ashgrove in Brisbane. Dwayne has been with CYLP since 2016, his first year of high school. As a school senior, he enjoys being a role model for the younger CYLP students.
Tell me about your hometown.
My family are all from Hope Vale; we have been in Hope Vale for many generations.
When I was growing up, I always went camping with my grandparents and they took me to the beach too. I also enjoyed hunting as a kid. I would hunt turtles in the sea and pigs on land.
My primary school was very small, so it was a big change coming to my new school in Brisbane.
Tell me about your experience at Marist College.
It’s been pretty good. The other boys at this school have been very welcoming. I’ve made heaps of friends since I’ve been here.
I think I’ve been doing really well at school too. I’ve really enjoyed the VET courses here. Construction, metal work and hospitality have been my favourite subjects.
Grade 10 was a good year, because I made the school’s rugby firsts team and played on the wing.
A good leader gives back to their community.
What was it like leaving home and coming to this school for the first time?
It was hard; I was homesick. I missed my family and going out on the weekends to do my favourite activities. Down here in Brisbane, I do have some family though, so that has helped me adjust.
The learning was tricky too, in the early days, because of the change in schools.
If I’ve ever had tough times, my friends at school have always been there for me – my friends from CYLP and the non-Indigenous boys here too.
What are you hoping to do once you have finished school?
I have been completing trade courses here at school, and I’ve started my plumbing apprenticeship with a company in Logan. Hopefully I can use my trade skills to get a mining job once I finish my apprenticeship.
I’d like to get a job in the Rio Tinto mine up in Weipa.
What leadership skills have you learnt during your time with CYLP?
I’ve learnt to be a role model to the younger kids at school. That means being someone that younger people look up to, so I always make sure that I’m doing the right thing.
What behaviours does a good leader display?
Helping others who need help. Here at school, it means helping out the younger kids with little things every day, like finding their classrooms and sticking to their timetable.
A good leader also gives back to their community.