Beechboro resident named 2014 Young Person of the Year

James Clarke, named 2014 WA Young Person of the Year for his crusade for human rights, with Youth Minister Tony Simpson.
James Clarke, named 2014 WA Young Person of the Year for his crusade for human rights, with Youth Minister Tony Simpson.

HOMOSEXUAL and indigenous rights advocate James Clarke says his inspiration is people who don't see him as an equal.

The 17-year-old Beechboro resident was named 2014 WA Young Person of the Year last week for his efforts in wiping out homophobia, transphobia and racism in schools and the wider community.

James came out two years ago and was faced by bullies who would mutter ‘faggot’ under their breath as they walked by him.

As a fair-skinned Aboriginal, he said he felt as though he did not fit in, and sank into depression.

Going through puberty, James was vulnerable, searching for his identity and acceptance.

To fight back, the Lockridge Senior High School Year 12 student became determined not to let anyone else go through what he did.

This year James travelled east three times with the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy, developing youth-led campaigns.

James also participated in several public speaking engagements and been influential in developing a set of WA school guidelines for supporting sexual and gender diversity.

He was also named winner of the Commissioner for Children and Young People Participate Award.

James said he owed the Follow the Dream: Partnerships for Success program at school for helping him pursue his vision of creating change and believing in himself.

‘I’m ready to use my own for issues and rights that I feel like I deserve as much as any other person,’ he said.

‘My inspiration is the ignorance of people who don’t view me as an equal, it’s those people who I know I have to change their views.’

Balga resident Golda Signal took home the Cultural Endeavours Award for his significant contributions to the WA community through drama, visual arts and literary pursuits since arriving from South Sudan.