Inspiring visitor for Youth Parliament
WHEN Eric Deeral was in school, he asked his teacher why indigenous people were not involved in changing policy.
His teacher responded: "Don't you know, Eric, that your people are a dying race?"
The former Cook MP used those words as his determination to get involved in politics and prove the teacher wrong.
"Looking back now, we have done it," he said.
More than 60 years on, he has instilled the same sense of determination and self-worth in the younger indigenous population.
Earlier this month, Queensland parlimentary speaker Fiona Simpson named the Indigenous Youth Parliament program in honour of Mr Deeral, who was the Member for Cook in the 1970's under Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
He was instrumental in advocating for aboriginal land rights, justice and improved living standards.
The Indigenous Youth Parliament was held on Thursday when 40 indigenous leaders selected from across Queensland were treated to an inspiring visit from Mr Deeral, who travelled from far north Queensland for the occasion.
"This morning, coming into this building, sent my mind back to what it was like then and that we were not recognised in our own country," he said.
"The laws were different ,but today, because we worked together, we have achieved that."
Mr Deeral encouraged young people to engage in democracy and embrace the endless opportunities available to them.
"Young people today with the opportunities available can continue to achieve what we have supported and what we aim for," he said.
Upon honouring the Indigenous Youth Parliament in Mr Deeral's name earlier this month, Ms Simpson said the inspirational MP's legacy was the power of his story and leadership.
"Great leaders unlock the potential of people who they serve - helping them achieve their dreams, to be their best, and to claim their destiny for good," she said.
"You are such a leader."
The Indigenous Youth Parliament debated a youth bill on education issues.