Cindy Smith, who was chosen for the Indigenous Youth Leadership Program, will walk the Kokoda Track in June.
Cindy Smith, who was chosen for the Indigenous Youth Leadership Program, will walk the Kokoda Track in June. Allan Reinikka

Leader blazes a trail for indigenous youth on Kokoda Track

CINDY Smith is blazing a trail as a young indigenous leader.

In June, that trail will set her on course for a 96km trek on the Kokoda Track.

The 19-year-old is one of three Queenslanders among the 18 young leaders chosen for the Indigenous Youth Leadership Program.

The two-year program focuses on strengthening the leadership capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, empowering them to inspire change for their families and communities.Participants take part in six block training sessions, one of which is the 10-day trek on Kokoda.

"I reckon I will be overwhelmed, but I look forward to the challenge and to testing myself," she said of Kokoda.

Cindy, who has Aboriginal and Filipino ancestry, said the trip would also allow her to learn about the indigenous culture of Papua New Guinea.

She was nominated for the leadership program by her employer Employment Services Queensland.

As a 16-year-old, Cindy started a school-based traineeship with the company. She was soon promoted to employment adviser and is now the site co-ordinator for ESQ Yeppoon.

Cindy hopes to continue leading the way and inspiring others, and ultimately run youth mentoring programs.

She offers this advice to other young indigenous achievers: "Never give up - keep following your dreams."

Aboriginal Australians of the Year:

2009: Mick Dodson (Professor of law)

1998: Cathy Freeman (athlete)

1992: Mandawuy Yunupingu (Yothu Yindi band leader)

1984: Lowitja O'Donoghue (nurse and ATSIC chairperson)

1979: Neville Bonner (first Aboriginal parliamentarian)

1978: Galarrwuy Yunupingu (Yolngu leader, brother of Mandawuy)

1971: Evonne Cawley (tennis player)

1968: Lionel Rose (boxer)



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