AS a young Barkinji man, Daniel Lockhart has something to say, and thousands have now taken notice.
The Ballarat Grammar School VCE boarder was named in the top 10 for a national competition that asked students from an indigenous background to speak as if they were elected Australian prime minister – the nation’s first among its original inhabitants.
More than 600 young indigenous Australians spoke of the issues that matter most to them for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) "The Other Election".
Their speeches – written, rehearsed and recorded in just two hours – were then voted on by an online audience.
Daniel was announced as being in the top 10 and he eventually finished sixth.
The 18-year-old’s speech focused on the importance of education, because if it wasn’t for the education his nan and great-nan had fought so hard to gain, the 18-year-old would not have had the opportunities he enjoys now.
“I was motivated by my family,” Daniel said. “My grandmother is very much into education.
“The theme was for equal opportunity of education between rural and city schools. I am from a small country town (Jerilderie) and a lot of rural schools have disadvantage.
“So my speech was about all disadvantage, not just indigenous.”
Daniel was invited by Ballarat Grammar School when AIME came to the University of Ballarat as part of a national tour.
He recorded his first speech at the university and, upon becoming a finalist, flew up to Sydney to have his speech recorded at Foxtel’s studio.
“It was in front of a camera, not a lot of people, but there were still some nerves,” he admitted.
It has been a busy year for Daniel, who is studying VCE English, maths, system engineering, product development and business.
However he has not ruled out a career in politics. His experience as an 18-year-old may yet prove to be good practice.
Transcript of Daniel's speech
I’m Daniel Lockhart. I want to tell you a story about an Australian family. My family.
I’m a Barkinji man from New South Wales. I live in a small country town of about 1000 people that has no high school.
I am passionate about education because of the way it has impacted my family from generation to generation.
Now that I am PM, the first change I will be making in office is education reforms, including better facilities and funding for rural schools to address the imbalance between rural and city learning environments.
Let me take you to the 1930s when my great-nan was just a little girl. The only way she was able to learn English was on a station when another little girl talked to her. To think that little girl got in trouble for sharing with my great-nan.
Skipping ahead to the 1960s, Great-Nan’s daughter Nanny Brown – my nan – told me a story about how she had to sneak into school to get an education. As you can see, my family had to fight against all odds to go to school.
Now that it is 2013, their legacy has provided me with opportunities that they didn’t have. That is what has brought me here today.
I believe we must have equal education no matter who you are, or where you come from. As prime minister I will bring about improvements and funding for schools proportionate to their needs. This is the only way for us to build a better Australia.
I am Daniel Lockhart. Remember the name. I am proud to be the first indigenous prime minister.