Nambucca Heads High student wins Youth Frontier award for empowering young women through art

Ngahuia Albertsen with her mural
Ngahuia Albertsen with her mural

Art is just in her blood.

Both of her grandparents are established artists and she has a direct lineal connection to the great Albert Namatjira.

Ngahuia Albertsen is a 15-year-old art student from Nambucca Heads High who is making waves around the state.

She has just returned from Sydney where she was awarded a Youth Frontiers award for her collaborative mural project which aimed to draw attention to gender inequality.

“In PE class, and just generally in everything at school, guys get more focus,” Ngahuia said.

“We get looked at as weak and vulnerable compared to them.

“But I would say that at this school there are heaps of girls who are better than the guys.”

Youth Frontiers is a state-wide mentoring program that encourages young people in years 8 and 9 to use their creativity, passion and determination to make a positive difference in their local community.

When she first set out to create the mural, Ngahuia said she doubted her own ability.

“And there were boys who were like ‘Why are you even doing that?’,” Ngahuia said.

But it’s just so amazing that this has all counted for something.

Ngahuia has used ideas from traditional Indigenous storytelling to illustrate that women, like the rivers and mountains, are the bringers of life.

The woodworking students helped to prepare the wooden canvas for the mural and Ngahuia worked with two other girls, Kelena Ashton and Elisha Linnete, to paint it.

‘We can’t all succeed if half of us are held back’ the mural reads.

She says that using art to create awareness comes naturally to her.

“I’ve always been passionate about art and empowering women because that’s just the way I’ve grown up,” Ngahuia said.

“And we’ve always been pretty big on murals at this school.”

“This one was only meant to be small, but the idea just grew over time.”

Melinda Pavey recently congratulated Ngahuia Albertsen from Nambucca Heads High School for winning the Empowering Young Women Youth Frontiers Award.

Ngahuia with Mel Pavey who she says is her new hero.

Ngahuia with Mel Pavey who she says is her new hero.

“Youth Frontiers encourages young people to think outside the box, try different ideas and have the courage to speak up for what they believe in,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Congratulations to Ngahuia on getting involved and for winning the Empowering Young Women award.”

Ngahuia was delighted to get the chance to visit Sydney for the first time to accept her award.

“It was an amazing opportunity and I got to see Parliament,” Ngahuia said.

“I thought I wouldn’t like it because I thought it was full of namby-pamby people.

“But it wasn’t. Everyone was really awesome and chilled.

“And actually, Melinda Pavey is now one of my biggest inspirations.

“She gave me a hug when I won and I was blushing.”

Since 2015, Youth Frontiers has connected around 3,500 young people with their communities through quality mentoring.

It's important for young people to get involved within their community so we can feel a sense of achievement and know that we can positively have an impact for the future.

Ngahuia Albertsen

And Ngahuia is looking forward to taking her message and her success to her school assembly next Tuesday.

“It’s going to be really great to talk about this issue with everyone,” Ngahuia said.

Ngahuia’s mural will continue to evolve and be a collaborative project, and will eventually be mounted outside the Nambucca Heads High deputy principal’s office for posterity.