Aretha Brown

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Aretha Brown, at the 2017 Invasion Day protest.

Aretha Brown (or Aretha Stewart-Brown, b. 11 November 2000), is an Indigenous Australian youth activist, artist, model, podcaster and the current Prime Minister of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament.[1] She is the daughter of rock frontman Paul Stewart of the Painters and Dockers, and the contemporary Indigenous artist Donna Brown.

Brown has appeared doing talks, speeches and acknowledgement of country ceremonies for various organisations including the ACTU, Landcare, Minus 18, Melbourne University, Jesuit Social Services, One Tree Foundation, Mission Australia, The Australian Shrine of Remembrance, Triple J and for the Australian College of International Surgeons.

Early life[edit]

Brown was born in Melbourne on 11 November 2000, and moved to the small community of Nambucca Heads in northern New South Wales to be around "her mob", the Gumbaynggirr clan, during her early childhood. She moved back to Melbourne to advance her education at Williamstown High School.


Aretha describes her art, as means of "giving herself a context in which to live", Aretha is inspired by her home in Melbourne's Western Suburbs and her journey as a queer teenager. Her first painting "Time is our our Side, You Mob" 2018 – (pictured) was selected for the 2019 Top Arts exhibition at the NGV.

Tops Arts 2019 presents diverse and accomplished works of art from students who have completed Art or Studio Arts as part of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE).

Hosted at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, the exhibition showcases young artists’ exploration of some of the greatest concerns of contemporary times, and their creative celebration of humanity and the world. Students from throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria included in Top Arts 2018 explored topics including gender identity, community, consumerism and the immersive experience of sporting arenas.


2014 – Brown was selected to attend the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in Turkey, as the Australian State representative.[2] Acknowledging the Indigenous servicemen who fought during World War 1 and commenting on the lack of recognition they received once returned home.

2017 – The then year 11 student made national headlines when she addressed an estimated 50,000 protesters in Melbourne on Australia Day at an Invasion Day rally, calling for the date of the national holiday to be changed.[3] She has gone on to speak at the 2018 Invasion Day march as well as various other NAIDOC events and marches since then.[4]

2017 – Brown also attended the National Youth Parliament in Canberra where she was chosen by her sixty peers as the first female Indigenous Youth Prime Minister of Australia. In this role she met Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition leader Bill Shorten and the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove. Later MP Tim Watts her local member congratulate Brown in the House of Representatives on this major achievement.[5]

She later appeared on ABC Radio Melbourne, the national ABC News Breakfast program and on NITV talking about her achievements in Canberra.

2017 – Brown appeared in the ABC TV documentary "Advice to My Twelve Year Old Self"[6] about Australia's up and coming female leaders and also appeared on the Australian talk show Q&A[7] School Special.


  1. ^ "Australia, meet your new prime minister". 5 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Australia, meet your new prime minister".
  3. ^ "Indigenous activist Aretha Brown on changing the date, the education system and women who inspire her – Fashion Journal".
  4. ^ Foundation, Indigenous Literacy. ""Speaking Out" from a Melbourne School – Indigenous Literacy Foundation".
  5. ^ "Aretha Stewart Brown is an emerging leader in the Indigenous community – Afternoons – ABC Radio". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Here Are 7 Aussie Women Who Have Made Us Bloody Proud This Year – MTV".
  7. ^ "The activist who could be Australia's first queer and Indigenous PM – Star Observer".

External links[edit]