Introducing our Deputy Executive Officer, Leyla Quartermaine!

I’m a proud Noongar Yorga (woman). I was born and raised here in Naarm, Wurundjeri Country by my nan, with the support of the Victorian Aboriginal Community. I am now the Deputy Executive Officer at the Koorie Youth Council, but it wasn’t easy getting here.

I failed year 9 based on my attendance within the first semester. During this time I was experiencing family violence at home, wagging school, starting to have police contact and causing my nan stress she didn’t deserve.

I was moved into foster care, 4 hours away from Melbourne to Portland, on Gunditjmara Country. I went back to school and was told I’d have to repeat year 9. In reality I wasn’t really repeating it because I didn’t do it in the first place. Living so far away from my nan, from the community I was raised in and everything I knew was challenging. I couldn’t count the amount of times I’d call nan up sobbing and wanting to go home to her.

I was an Executive Member for the Koorie Youth Council for 3 years before becoming a staff member. I started at KYC as the Marram Nganyin Project Officer in 2019, supporting Aboriginal organisations across the state to deliver strength-based youth mentoring programs in their communities. I later became the Marram Nganyin Program Coordinator. Koorie Youth Council, the team individually and collectively empowered my growth, personally and professionally.

Banok taught me that being a Blak woman is my power and strength. To always move with integrity because if you have integrity, it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes. Indi taught me to back myself and to stand in my truth. Bryce is an old soul and has given me year’s worth of wisdom. Bonnie reminds me that I deserve and am worthy of being where I am today. I am honoured and so excited to lead Koorie Youth Council alongside Bonnie, to learn from her and with her.

I wasn’t meant to be where I am today but I am because of the people I had in my corner and the people that had my back even when I didn’t have my own back.

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