Story: Tim Goodwin
He’s just 17 years old, but Tim Goodwin has accomplished more than many people three times his age. Friendly, articulate and energetic, the Canberra-based student is committed to improving opportunities for Indigenous young people around Australia.
Last year Tim was chosen to sit on the Australian National Youth Roundtable, a forum set up by the Government in 1998 to provide input on issues affecting young people. As part of that 50-strong envoy, Tim carried out research on how young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel about their Indigenous identity.
One of his key findings was that many felt as though they existed in ‘two worlds’ – one Indigenous, the other mainstream – and that it was hard to fit into either. But Tim says this shouldn’t necessarily be seen in a negative light.
“I like to think of it as two worlds contributing to one spirit,” he says. “We’re made up of all these different parts, so why don’t we just accept our complexity? It all adds up to a whole, and that is what’s important – along with our being comfortable with it.”
As a result of recommendations made by Tim, and 1999 Roundtable member Ashley Couzens, Federal Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, the Hon Dr David Kemp announced a new forum for 2001 – the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Group.
This forum, due to convene in July, will look at specific issues Indigenous youth face in urban, regional, rural and remote parts of Australia. “I was blown away that the fruits of my and Ashley’s labour came so soon,” says Tim. “Fingers crossed that it actually works.”
According to Tim, the best part about being involved in the Roundtable was “the friendships that will last a lifetime”, while the worst part was “having to write the report in the middle of Year 11”.
And despite their youth and relative inexperience, the members of the Roundtable demanded to be taken seriously by Canberra’s politicians and policy makers. “With the commitment and enthusiasm we showed, they didn’t have a choice in the matter!” he laughs.
Looking back, Tim is glad he got involved in the Roundtable, “if only for the people I met and the way it’s inspired me to keep fighting for young Aboriginal people’s rights”.
Tim has been involved in committees and forums since he was 11. But what really got him motivated was being invited to attend the 5th World Indigenous Youth Conference in New Zealand back in 1998
“I met so many inspiring people from all over the world,” he recalls. “The sense of unity between all the Indigenous nations represented was amazing. We all have a quest to preserve our culture and move forward with hope.”
So what drives him to achieve so much at such a young age? “I love my culture and have been instilled with that love by both my parents. Young people’s issues have always been a passion of mine. And I start to feel bored when I’m not doing something!”
Tim plans to study arts/law at university next year, majoring in political science and Indigenous law. Is the world of politics beckoning?
“That’s always been a dream,” he says. “When I was in grade two I was saying that I wanted to be the first Aboriginal PM.”
That said, he says he’s still too young to decide which party line to toe. “I’m probably too ambitious for the ‘keep the bastards honest’ parties. I’d prefer to be one of the bastards!”
Whatever he does – and we at Vibe think he’ll do lots – Tim Goodwin hopes never to lose his fighting energy. “In 10 years time hopefully I’ll be out there somewhere attending youth functions – still trying to hold onto my own! And still talking up a storm.”