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.
Kade Wallace is an Indigenous man from the Cape York town of Hope Vale. He is currently completing the third year of his undergraduate studies at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. He is studying a Bachelor of Justice majoring in criminology. Kade has been part of CYLP since 2014, his first year of boarding at Brisbane Grammar School. He has also been a beneficiary of the Student Education Trust product, which has helped him and his family save for high school and university costs. During Kade’s mid-year university break, he chose to work with the Pama Platform team for a short period. He was successful in signing up people in Hope Vale community to the new digital platform.
Tell me about your home and traditional language.
I was born in Cairns, but I grew up all my life in Hope Vale, until I went to boarding school in Brisbane.
My traditional language is Guugu Yimithirr. I know a little bit, but I’m not fluent. I’d really like to keep learning. My grandmother, mother and aunty are all fluent, so I can keep learning from them.
Tell me about your experience with CYLP.
It has helped me a lot; it has given me a lot of opportunities during high school and university. CYLP introduces you to new friends from other Cape York communities, because they run camps every year.
CYLP has also helped me attend university and chase my dreams. I wasn’t very confident when I was in high school and thought that I wouldn’t be able to complete university studies. But CYLP helped me to become more self-confident. It introduced me to mentors and people at my high school who inspired me to chase my dreams.
When I first went to Brisbane, I was homesick. The noisy streets and big buildings were unfamiliar. My CYLP student support officer has been very helpful with changing this. He would set up a meeting once a week to discuss any support that I needed. He also introduced me to the city environment and helped me become familiar with it. Spending time with my friends also helped with the homesickness. I try to get involved with other people as much as possible.
Every school holidays I would come back to Hope Vale and do all the things that I enjoyed during my childhood: camping, fishing and going to the beach.
What is the best advice that you have received during your time with CYLP?
Make as many friends and build as many connections as possible, because friends will help you through tough times. The people you meet at boarding school will become your mates for life, even after school.
It’s good to have connections because those people will have different career paths and you will be able to speak with them about anything.
I would like to help Indigenous families through the problems that they have. I would also like to remove discrimination against Indigenous people within the police force.
Why did you choose to study a Bachelor of Justice?
Ever since I was a kid I wanted to work with the police and help people. My aunty is in the police force, and she encouraged me to complete these studies.
I like the idea of solving crimes and helping with good policing. I knew that I wanted to do this kind of study since my early years in high school when I found out that it was a possibility. The course is going well; I find it all very interesting.
I like Brisbane too – I would rather be at home, of course, but I think there will be better job opportunities for me in Brisbane.
What are some key differences that you would like to make in your coming career?
Primarily, I would like to help Indigenous families through the problems that they have.
I would also like to remove discrimination against Indigenous people within the police force.
Why did you choose to work for the Pama Platform?
I needed a job in Hope Vale during my university holidays. My job was to introduce people to the platform and encourage them to sign up.
Pama Platform helps people with their financial needs and helps people with employment by setting up resumes. It just makes lots of things easier for the user.
I really think Pama Platform will be beneficial for Cape York communities because people need guidance and help with their financial needs. It will help them categorise their savings and expenses.