In this blog, we have the pleasure of speaking with Bayan Yazdani and Amiel Nubaha about their experience at the First Nations Future Leaders Series.
Bayan Yazdani is a management consultant from Adelaide living in Darwin. With an academic background in psychology and international relations/trade and now residing in the Top End, Bayan is interested in Indigenous perspectives on foreign and climate policy challenges.
Why did you want to participate in the series?
As a former YAIA volunteer who has relocated to the Northern Territory, I have a strong interest in learning more about Indigenous perspectives and contributions to Australian foreign policy.
As a Consultant with Nous Group, I work on projects related to sustainable development and international collaboration. Our Darwin office includes a large Indigenous consulting practice and, along with my Indigenous and other passionate colleagues, I could find unique ways to combine our work in the sustainable development sector with our expertise working alongside Indigenous individuals and communities to contribute to social progress.
Learning from experts how best to approach this in a culturally appropriate way will be critical to successful integration. After volunteering with YAIA for two years, it was wonderful to return as an FLS participant - particularly for a topic so critical to our country’s domestic reconciliation and international relations.
Born and raised in a refugee camp, Amiel is an Australian of Rwandan background who migrated to Australia through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Resettlement Program. Just over a decade later after arriving in Australia, Amiel graduated in 2019 with Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice and has recently graduated from the Institute for Economics and Peace Ambassador Program. In the same year of his University graduation, Amiel also graduated from Caux Scholarship Program in Switzerland and has since initiated several peace and trust building programs with Initiatives of Change Australia.
Amiel has extensive experience with supporting vulnerable individuals, families and communities in a professional environment. Amiel’s experience comprises over 8 years working directly with conflict inflicted families and communities. A recent senior restorative justice practitioner with a Queensland Government Justice department, Amiel enjoys serving his local community, including supporting his Rwandan community through his role as current President of the Federation of Rwandan Communities in Australia Inc.
What did participation in the series mean for you?
My childhood was all spent in a refugee camp located in Zimbabwe. Upon my arrival in Australia, I worked very hard in my education and spent my spare time serving my local community where I had the opportunity to give back to Australia. Given my refugee experience, and now managing my small mediation business, Comprehensive Mediation Services, I bring unique perspectives to First Nations issues. These views are formed and inspired by extensive experience which includes 2.5 years working in Cherbourg, a First Nations community in Queensland (former mission settlement) along with other cross-cultural activities I have delivered with my first nations colleagues.
I was particularly interested to learn about the current trends in the field, and the role of multicultural communities in strengthening our First Nations Foreign Policy, and through this training I was able to share my experience and how to engage multicultural communities into these timely discussions.
Two months after the Future Leaders Series, you both came to Canberra for the extension program. What did the day involve?
Seven participants of this year’s Future Leaders series, focusing on the theme of First Nations Foreign Policy, met in-person today in Canberra. Our day began with a visit to ANU’s Hedley Bull School, and this opportunity provided us with an understanding of Indigenous research and relevant academic discourses. Our conversations revolved around climate change, First Nations policy issues, and comparative studies undertaken by the researchers exploring the evolution of First Nations cultures in Australia and abroad. This engagement gave us a deeper understanding of young Australians in international affairs and how they partner with like-minded institutions and existing initiatives to develop young Australians’ interest and capability in international affairs.
Afterwards, we attended a closed session with the First Nations Taskforce at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We presented policy pitches developed over several weeks during the series to the taskforce members. Our pitches related to equipping young Indigenous Australians with international mobility experiences, professional development opportunities, avenues for further Pacific engagement, and joint climate action. The taskforce provided us with useful feedback and asked clarifying questions, indicating receptivity to our ideas and possible solutions shared. We were pleased to hear that our research and policy ideas were aligned with priorities already identified by the taskforce through their ongoing consultations. We discussed opportunities for ongoing engagement as the Taskforce prepares to implement the Australian Government’s ambitious First Nations foreign policy agenda.
Following our pitches, we had lunch at a local Ethiopian restaurant. Yarning over a delicious meal provided us with an opportunity to reflect on the importance of cultural diversity while being introduced to some of Canberra’s multicultural delicacies.
How was your experience on Ngunawal Country?
Our day ended with an enriching walk on Ngunawal country with a local custodian who immersed our group in the importance of spirituality and sustainable co-existence with nature in First Nations cultures. As the group walked through the bush, learning about the beautiful natural landscapes and different cultural customs, we gained a better understanding of traditional approaches to land management, healing and belonging. We also gained knowledge about traditional bush medicines and foods, and how the longest surviving culture in the world developed and transmitted this sacred and protected knowledge over countless generations.
Concluding the program on country was the perfect way for us to take the strategic knowledge we gained through our engagement with foreign policy experts to deeply understand how this connects to long-standing understandings of essential relationships and connection to country. We genuinely believe the integration of such knowledge will strengthen Australia’s international relations and engagement on global development, trade and diplomatic initiatives.