ARMADALE resident and young Noongar woman Danikka Calyon was highly commended in the Commissioner for Children and Young People Participate Award at the WA Youth Awards recently.
The Year 11 student from Mercedes College was recognised for her outstanding community work and leadership skills, which have taken her to the United Nations headquarters and allowed her to rub shoulders with some of the world’s most powerful people.
Danikka said she has always wanted to be a role model for her younger siblings and indigenous people.
“I also wanted to show that we are individuals who set our own path and don’t have to live up to Aboriginal stereotypes,” she said. “I want to show young people that anything is possible and that we shouldn’t use our past as an excuse or let it hold us back.”
Danikka took up a challenging range of subjects at Mercedes College and also became involved in Save the Children’s One Step Closer program and Drug Aware Ignite Basketball.
She is an Ignite Basketball mentor and now conducts after-school activities for 60 children in challenging circumstances.
In September, she was selected from more than 700 applicants to be Australia Youth Ambassador for Save the Children.
She joined other youth state ambassadors in Canberra for the National Youth Forum where they worked on writing a youth manifesto on the impact of key social justice issues in the lives of young Australians.
Danikka then attended the UN General Assembly in New York, where more than 150 world leaders adopted the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In a panel discussion, hosted by UNICEF and The Guardian, Danikka addressed more than 150 UN staff and delegates to alert them to the ‘inequality of opportunities Aboriginal youth face’.
“Along with 192 youth delegates I stood with Malala Yousafzai (a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate) as she delivered her inspirational address calling on world leaders to act on the right to education for all children.
Danikka embraces opportunity, remains optimistic about her own future and believes in the power of young Aboriginal people to determine their own destiny.