Finalist 2017: Ellen Ann Monsi, NT
Name: Ellen Ann Monsi
Community, State: Katherine, NT
School: Katherine High School
Age: Year 12, 16
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As a member of the Katherine community, I have come across statistics which suggest that the rate of crime is significantly higher than other communities around Australia. Children in primary and secondary schools committing offences such as vandalism and assault is a common event in this small community. I have personally been a victim of verbal abuse by a few female primary school students while taking my dog for walk. Although, the event was resolved through the intervention of two older females who knew the students and forced them to apologise to me, it raised my awareness of the lack of respect young children have for others. I was first convinced that their lack of respect was due to their own ignorance, but I was surprised to the learn the harsh reality behind their actions.
Breakdown of relationships, alcoholism and substance misuse are a few of the contributing factors to young females diverting to a cyclic lifestyle of offending. Children who are a victim of domestic violence or have parents that are binge drinkers or find their home to be unsafe and noisy, are more likely to exhibit the characteristics of a juvenile delinquent.
I believe that to empower our young females, the government should help make the community a positive environment where they are able to grow without their family background forcing them to conform to a lifestyle of crime and negativity. This can be achieved by the government providing more funding for organisations such as the YMCA for youth diversion initiatives. Schools should become the platform for young children to understand the consequences of their offences and to teach them how to respect themselves and others. Rather than segregating Indigenous females from Non-Indigenous youth, they should be taught together for all students to connect and build positive relationships. I believe that the current approach to help young Indigenous females is widening the ‘gap’ than closing it.
By intervening in the lives of females from primary school, we can empower them with countless opportunities. So, in the future they can become whatever they aspire to be, even our next Prime Minister.