Isaiah Sines is a proud Dhungatti man from Kempsey and also has ties to the Wiradjuri people. After moving around a lot early in his life he is now settled in Mt Druitt.
“I have experienced a lot in my life and that is why I wanted to become a youth ambassador with Just Reinvest. I hope to be able to use this position to advocate for other Koori kids who are going through what I went through and hopefully prevent the future generations from being affected by the same systems I grew up in. I like the concept behind Just Reinvest and how the organisation understands that Aboriginal people have the solutions to the issues that affect us and that we just need to support communities to heal themselves.”
Some Isaiah’s work includes:
Terleaha is a proud Kamilaroi and Yuin woman. She is a Just Reinvest Youth Ambassador and a project lead on Mounty Yarns – The lived experiences of Aboriginal young people in Mt Druitt. Terleaha is also assisting and coordinating a community-led OzTag team.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.” – Barack Obama.
“Young people now in Mt Druitt are making change. We are putting as many things in place to help, support and guide change. And we will not stop.”
Kobie is 23 years old and was born and raised in Maroubra, Sydney. Kobie’s mob is the Yuin Nation from the South coast and Gamilaroi people from Moree. He has been involved with Weave Youth and Community Services through the Kool Kids Club Program since he was in primary school. Kobie believes that justice reinvestment is important to provide both services that guide young people and opportunities for them to reach their goals. As a talented musician, Kobie has written and performed original rap songs, including songs about justice reinvestment and the impact of incarceration on families and communities. In addition to rap, Kobie is a committed and successful boxer and held the NSW Featherweight title. He has presented at conferences and told his story at Change the Record forums, through media and in schools. He is a mentor for children and young people in his community. Kobie has recently signed with Bad Apples Record label.
Trei is 21 years old and grew up in Nowra and the La Perouse community. He is from the Yuin nation that surrounds Wreck bay on the NSW South coast. Trei had a difficult childhood being removed from his family and separated from his siblings at a young age. He first got involved with Weave Youth and Community Service’s Kool Kids Club program in 2005 when he was 7 years old. Kool Kids Club is a prevention and early intervention initiative providing free after school and holiday activity programs in La Perouse and the surrounding areas. The program supports the development of well being, resilience and life skills for children and young people, fostering protective factors by building on young people’s strengths and enhancing their connections with community and family. The programs are designed to challenge and enhance children’s abilities and life skills. Trei understands first hand the importance of justice reinvestment and knows that without access to programs and support through Weave he may have ended up in the criminal justice system himself. It’s that passion that moved Trei to continue his time at Weave and become a Weave Youth Advocate and mentor.
Trei has been an ambassador for Just Reinvest NSW since the launch at Government House in 2012. He has presented at national and state conferences, spoken with the media, supported young people in school and traveled to Uluru to participate in a leadership course. He believes that justice reinvestment is important to give young Aboriginal people support and positive mentors so they do not go down the wrong path.
Beau Foster is 22 years old originally from the South coast in New South Wales. He was raised in Sydney and his mob is the Yuin nation from the South coast and the Dharawal people from the La Perouse community. He has been involved with Weave Youth and Community Service’s Kool Kids Club program since primary school. He knows first hand the difference it makes to have the support you need growing up in tough circumstances and is passionate about making sure other Aboriginal children and young people have the opportunities he had so they can have the best chance in life. Beau is a great mentor for younger kids in his community and has stepped up on many occasions to speak and perform at conferences, in the media and events to raise awareness of the importance of reducing the rates of incarceration for Aboriginal people.
Beau believes that justice reinvestment is important because it offers young people an alternative to detention and focuses on the positive skills and strengths that they already have. Beau now works at the Kool Kids Club as an Activity worker supporting young people and their families. He remains committed to making positive, sustainable changes to strengthen community capacity and reduce incarceration rates.
Dharumbal Murri, Mi-kaisha, has fought for social justice her entire life. The 17 year old’s passion for sharing people’s experiences and stories has driven her to share her own story through music and take a stand. Mi-kaisha believes it is important that young people, and all people, find their voice anduse it to work on issues that affect them and are important to them. Mi-kaisha is President of the United Nation’s empowerment program, Girl Up, at her school. This is a group of young women who advocate for girl’s rights, educate others about the issues affecting girls in developing countries and in local communities in the hope of making positive change.
Mi-kaisha is also Head Girl at International Grammar School, House Captain and actively volunteers for Aboriginal community organisations and children’s charities. She is an inaugural member of the Youth Advisory Group of the Western Sydney Centre for Indigenous Excellence and works after school for AIME. Mi-kaisha uses music to challenge stereotypes, provoke debate and tell stories of strength. “I feel that because I have been equipped with the life tools I need to succeed, a great education and have always had an amazing support system of people backing me, I need to show the world what a young Indigenous person can achieve when given a chance, and a level playing field.”
“The power that lies in our community, hasn’t been recognised by those outside of our world experience. Our people have endured so much and have so much resilience and I think it’s important to show the world that power.”
Temeka is 18 years old and was born in Blacktown. She is the second youngest of 5 children but has an enormous extended family that she grew up with. She has spent her whole life in the Mt Druitt area of Sydney but has family connections to both the Wongkumara and Kamilaroi nations.
Through her first 18 years of life she has seen first hand the effects that both the out-of-home-care and criminal justice system have had on her mob. Temeka and her siblings were removed from their parents and placed into multiple foster care homes. They were eventually placed back into the care of their loving mother and father but during her time in care, Temeka went through a lot of tough times and circumstances. She has also spent time in police custody and juvenile detention. Despite all of this, Temeka has come out the other side a real leader.
She is extremely passionate about helping her community and is currently enrolled to study Community Services at TAFE while looking for work in the hospitality industry. She is also looking to be a mentor for some of the younger girls in the Mt Druitt area.
She is excited to be a Youth Ambassador for Just Reinvest as she sees it as a much better way to deal with the problem of overrepresentation of our people. She wonders how different both her life and the lives of many of her family and friends would have been if the money spent on locking her mob up was spent on helping them to break the cycle. She is also very passionate about the expansion of other diversionary programs such as the Youth Koori Court.
Killara Ebsworth was born in Broken Hill and is one of ten, having three sisters and six brothers. Her family is descended from the Wongkamara people of North Western NSW on her fathers side and the Dhungatti people of the Kempsey region on her mothers side. She lived in multiple locations growing up but Western Sydney has been the area she has spent most of her time.
She has had to face a lot of issues in her short life but has come out of it extraordinarily resilient and loving. She is always up for a yarn and a laugh and has the potential to be a leader for young people in the community. She is extremely passionate about the concept of justice reinvestment and wants to see more done to engage the young people in our communities.
Kaleesha Morris is a proud Gumbaynggirr and Kulkalgal woman who was born and raised on her mother’s country in the Clarence Valley by the Northern Rivers of NSW. Kalessha is a Youth Ambassador for Just Reinvest NSW. “I often try to raise special awareness of the tragic Aboriginal suicide rates in Australia,” says Kaleesha, “as well as the increasing incarceration rates of our people, both realities of which are unacceptable in Australia. I am a youth ambassador for Just Reinvest NSW, an organisation which lobbies for various reforms in the criminal justice system and most importantly, stands for reducing Aboriginal incarceration rates and building Aboriginal community empowerment and self-determination.”
I grew up in Dalby for my younger years, a beautiful country town located in QLD then moved back to Tweed Heads during my teenage years. I’ve grown up in a system that hasn’t been very favourable towards me, simply because of the colour of my skin. Institutions operate on a deeply entrenched racist system, ultimately this affects us all as we are one race, the human race and we must come together to support one another rather than allow ourselves to be divided.
My dad taught me, “Black, White or Brindle, doesn’t matter what colour you are, when you walk in the street you say Hello to them.” Because of what he taught me, it bothers me so much that hatred of differences, that are actually beautiful, exist. It’s important to me to change the system because of what my family and ancestors have been through, what they have survived. I know what they’ve gone through, I know I’ve carried the Trauma from that. I’m reaching out to places that I can heal myself. I don’t want my daughter to be effected by that, the next generation.
Just Reinvest is a powerful mechanism for change as it is a community of people and organisations who believe that holistic approaches are the only way to make significant generational change through justice reinvestment.
I want other young people to know that there is always hope and there is always people that care. There are solutions, and you can make change, people can work together to make these big problems, not too big to be solved. I want young people to not stop believing in themselves and not compromise on what they inherently know to be right. We all have an inner voice that guides us. Listen to it and trust in it.