Torquay local Keeden Graham nominated for Young Australian of the Year Award

Torquay local Keeden Graham nominated for Young Australian of the Year Award

Words by Alice McDonald

An inspiring individual looking out for Indigenous young people.

The proud Yorta-Yorta, Wiradjuri and Dja Dja Wurrung man from Torquay, Keeden Graham has recently been nominated as the Victorian Young Australian of the Year for 2022 for his work in elevating and advocating for Indigenous youth and mentoring local young people, connecting them to their culture.

When asked who inspires him, Keeden was quick to say his mum and dad as well as the Indigenous community leaders that have come before him. This humility perfectly sums up Keeden’s kind and generous nature.

As a board member of the Ngarrimili Charity and deputy CEO of Strong Brother Strong Sister, Keeden always has the future for young Indigenous people on his mind.

Being nominated for Young Australian of the Year 2022 is a “humbling” experience for Keeden. He doesn’t “do the work for the recognition – it’s quite the opposite.” Keeden does “it because [he] wants to help the community and see young Indigenous people do amazing things.”

The nomination acts merely as a reminder that he is “doing the right thing” and is “on the right track.”

With the effects of colonialism, the trauma of the Stolen Generation and Indigenous people being displaced still felt today, Keeden’s mentoring mission at Strong Brother Strong Sister is to help Indigenous youth find their sense of identity and to connect with their mob and to country. Keeden has seen for himself that “once you feel like you have a community and that people care” you find your sense of purpose in this world.

Strong Brother Strong Sister is a 100 percent Aboriginal-owned-and-operated organisation, that provides a culturally appropriate and safe place to help Aboriginal young people thrive. Formed in 2017 by Cormach Evans, the programme provides one-on-one mentoring where people like Keeden work alongside a young person in an intensive programme.

“Helping young people with a lack of connection to country and culture – find a sense of belonging to their community.”

Keeden works on what passions and dreams drive these young people and allows them the space to develop and grow in order to find themselves.

With Indigenous Australians having the highest suicide rates in the world – an extremely alarming figure, his advice to young people is to always “reach out” and to “take it day by day”. Keeden knows the importance of feeling as though you’re able “to have a yarn with the people you feel comfortable with.”

With COVID-19 and the effects of climate change on the rise, it’s even more important not to “keep it all inside.”

Working with Victorian Youth Congress has seen Keeden further help communities of all types all across Victoria. Working closely with the Minister for Youth, as well as a former council member of the Youth Council at the Commission for Children and Young People. His passion for Aboriginal culture shines through all his work. We wish him all the best of luck with his nomination.

To learn more head to Strong Brother Strong Sister head here.

If you need to reach out to someone, please visit Beyond Blue or Lifeline on 13 11 14.