Every day on my trip to work I pass one of the local schools, and every day the same little old man is there going about his morning as the crossing guard, or the lollypop man as they are called.
This morning I took a little more notice than usual, I don’t know why, I just did. He looked up at me as I pulled up my car just before the crossing and he gave a nod, and then he smiled at me; it was a friendly smile, a familiar one. It was a smile that made me smile right back at him. I then looked at the little people crossing the road, and their faces were covered in happiness. Their eyes and their smiles even seemed a touch brighter as they said good morning and skipped across the road, protected, by that little old man whom I see every day.
We live in a world where we are force fed bad news and meaningless stories about which celebrity did what or which celebrity bought a new multi-million dollar house instead of hearing about those around us that are making a difference to this place, and making a real difference to people; that little old man reminded me of that.
As I drove away I was reminded of a shoelace tying competition in year 2 that I won (yes a competition to see who was the fastest kid to tie up their shoelaces) where my teacher, Ms Lloyd made me feel like I was the fastest shoelace ‘tyerrupperer’ on the planet. I thought about Mrs Simmons, the canteen lady who would give my brother George and I a few extra lollies and as always, an extra smile for the day. I thought about Mr Brown, my year 4 teacher, who made me do something that no other teacher had done before; he made me believe in myself. Now I can’t tell you the things that those special people said to me or where they are now or even what they look like these days; but what I can tell you, is how they made me feel. They made a difference; they made me feel important; I felt like I mattered.
That little old man; every morning he makes those kids smile as they cross the road. A simple smile and a nod and he can make them feel like they are important and that they matter. I like to imagine that; maybe, he makes them feel that they are on their way across not only a road, but a bridge to a world of new possibilities and adventure. That little old man; he makes them feel important every single day, he makes a difference to them, every, single, day. But just this morning, as I took a little more notice than usual, he made me smile; but more than that, he made a difference…
Take care you mob…
I was sitting on the back deck just on sunset; I smiled as I watched as the sun quietly slip behind the mountains in the distance. The evening was warm enough that even though she had gone, I could still feel where the sun had kissed my skin in those hours before she had disappeared before the night. Like fireflies rushing towards me, I watched houselights flickering as they chased away the evening darkness. Floating in on the soft ocean breeze I am bathed in the perfumes of sweet frangipani and cherry blossoms; it’s there I hear the faint last call of an old black cockatoo as he readies himself for sleep in the massive gum trees, just across the gully.
I sat out on the deck with my dearest friend Madeline, or Mads as I call her; intermittently, we were visited by her gorgeous little one Coco. We sat talking about life, about love and as always talking about our families. Like everyone else has I suppose, we have changed from all those years ago when we lived together as housemates. We have both grown and matured; we’ve shared in the best and some of the worst of times through both of our lives. We also have the battle scars and life lessons to prove it.
As people, in the hustle and bustle of everyday, we can get lost in our lives; we get caught up in the whole struggle of trying to figure this crazy world out; so much so that we forget to just, sit every now and then, just to be. We forget to find ourselves and ground ourselves. Mads, helps me do that and I hope that in some way, I help her do the same. I also hope that all of you can find a dear friend that loves you, and respects you, and even at your lowest, they can somehow make you feel like you mean something to this place. I hope that one day; you will also get the chance to smile and watch the sun quietly slip behind the mountains in the distance, as you are bathed the perfumes of sweet frangipani and the cherry blossoms …
Take care of yourself, each other and your community.
The water, like a single pane of glass, stretched out in front of me as the morning sun found its way over the hills in the distance and danced across the water towards me. It was just after 6am at Saratoga Bay on the Central Coast and I was out for another morning run. Each run has its purpose for me, be it to clear my head, to start a new day, or like today to calm me and to settle my nerves.
Setting out to run that morning, I realised that this place didn’t yet know me; that I hadn’t run on that ground before. I realised that Darkinjung Country had not yet felt my feet, so before running I went to the water’s edge and thanked their old people for letting me run on country, for letting me bring my story with me, and for protecting me on that day. Out somewhere in the distance I could hear that old crow, he was singing, his voice was strong and his voice was carried on the cool morning breeze, bringing my story to this new place, letting them know I was here as a friend.
The run itself was an easy one; I didn’t want to spend too much of myself in it as I was supposed to roll at the Jiu Jitsu Open that day. By the end of it I covered just under 4km that morning, slowly and deliberately. I wasn’t racing anyone, I didn’t have anything to prove, not even to myself, that run was just to settle the nerves, to centre my thoughts and to ready me for a fight that I was sure I could win. Clearer and more determined than ever, I was to go on and win silver and then my first ever BJJ gold medal that day, I was proud that of that achievement and I was thankful to come through that day safe and protected again.
I hope that when I return, as I plan to, that place still knows me; I hope that next time I am there, their old people remember that October morning that started with a simple run, the song of an old crow and the sunlight dancing across the water….]]>
We have all heard it; and to me this is one of the weakest and laziest descriptions of a person that one can make. I am much more than I appear to be; I AM Aboriginal.
I hear this description and I don’t know whether to look for someone that looks like Adam Goodes or Johnathan Thurston? Should I look for a Cathy Freeman or Nova Peris look alike? Am I supposed to search for people who look the same as Anita Heiss or Luke Carroll?
OR do I look for someone that is standing on one leg; spear in hand, goanna over the shoulder, skin as black as the night and wearing nothing but a lap-lap and a smile? Or does this person only look ‘a bit’ Aboriginal? Are they fair skinned? Are they more light brown than black or even a double shot soy caramel latte colour … just like me?
Did they grow up somewhere in between wishing they were darker and being thankful that they weren’t? Does it make them uncomfortable living in a country where on the same day that very same person can be picked up by the police or knocked back by a TV casting agent because of a definition of Aboriginality that is imposed upon them?
No one seems to mention what colour hair this person has. Are they wearing brand name sneakers? Or a red, black and/or yellow hoodie? Are they dressed to kill in a 3 piece suit? Or are they rocking the hell out of a floor length ball gown with the plunging neck line like so many of our sisters at the Deadly Awards?
You see I am more than just a manufactured popularist image of my cultural background, I am more than just a simple label that tries to define my family connection to this country, and I am far more than your idea of what I should look like. DO NOT try to define my identity… I’m already who I am meant to be… I AM Aboriginal.]]>
I get up early each Thursday, about 5:30am so I can go into town to train with a friend of mine. I get up early Thursday because I know that someone is relying on me, someone else is there to push me if I need it. My friend pushes me, he challenges me, and yes sometimes he breaks me, but right now I need to be pushed.
I remember a while back when I would always get up early to train, sometimes at home, in the back yard, and sometimes I would just find stretch of road or a trail to lose myself on. You know it is funny when I say ‘lose myself’, because when I think about it, it was also the place where I could find myself. There was me, the road, and nothing else.
I would push myself hard too; pushing myself just hard enough to find that place where my head would beg me to stop and my spirit would laugh and say “is that all you got”. I remember how I would get up early just to watch the sun peek her beautiful orange face just above the horizon. I also remember when the grass was covered in so much ice that it would crackle as I ran laps one cold winter’s morning around the local football field. I remember chin ups on a bar so cold that I was afraid my hands would freeze to it, and I remember sitting on that park bench that morning, pushed to my limit, cold, broken, accomplished.
This morning I got up early and trained alone for the first time in a very long time, it hurt to train; and it hurt to train alone. But I have found that sometimes you have to push through what hurts you to find what heals you. My head told me to stop, but luckily my spirit is slowly working up the courage to defy it. I just hope that I can get up early tomorrow morning and the next morning and the morning after that, to push myself, to challenge myself, to try to find myself again….
By the time you all read this post, the launch event of the 2013-2018 Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy will have taken place. All the hard work that has gone into developing this strategy has been completed and I want to thank UNE for their support; and in particular my direct supervisor Clare Drew for the support and guidance she has given me in the development of this important document.
Please know that just because the strategy has been developed that does not mean that the hard work will cease, I believe the hard work has only just begun. If you have not had look at the strategy yet please go to my previous post and download the PDF version of it and you will see how we are working to embed the aims of the strategy across the entire institution.
I am looking forward to the next 5 years; it will no doubt be a challenge but I feel that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have a great opportunity to capitalize on the strong commitment shown at all levels of the University of New England.
Until next time, take care of yourselves, each other and your community
I am pleased to announce that the UNE 2013- 2018 Aboriginal Employment Strategy has been approved and at the time of writting this blog, had been sent to the printers.
Final Online Aboriginal Employment Strategy
It has been a long road to get to his point and it would not have been possible without the ongoing support of our Human Resource Services Directorate, the Strategy Systems and Planning Unit, the former Equity and Diversity Unit and the also the wider University of New England community.
UNE will be launching the strategy in the near future and will be presenting it at various comminity forums around the state very soon, we will be sure to stay in touch.
Until then bloggers please take care of yourselves, each other, and your community
Aboriginal Employment Officer
Human Resource Services
Strategy, Systems and Planning
University of New England
Armidale NSW 2351
Phone: +61 2 6773 3367
I wish to pay my respects to the Custodians of the lands we are on and pay my respects to our elders both past and present. I also acknowledge our children, for just as our elders have lit the way for us in the past, our children will hold the light when we are gone.]]>
Just an update for you all,
The UNE Aboriginal Employment Strategy 2013-2018 is in its final stages of consultation and we envisage that the stratgey will be endorsed by June 30th this year. It has been a long process to get the strategy to a place where we feel we can start to implement meaningful change at an institutional level here at UNE and I for one am very proud of where the strategy is at the moment.
I will update you all when more information comes to hand but in the meantime if you have any questions please dont hesitate to contact me on the details below.
Aboriginal Employment Officer
Human Resource Services – Stratgey, Systems and Planning
University of New England
Armidale NSW 2351
Phone: +61 2 6773 3367
I wish to pay my respects to the Custodians of the lands we are on and pay my respects to our elders both past and present. I also acknowledge our children, for just as our elders have lit the way for us in the past, our children will hold the light when we are gone.
As part of the University of New England’s commitment to helping close the gap in educational and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, a casual register for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples interested in working here at UNE has been established. The register will be open to interested Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who wish to be considered for a range of various positions at the UNE.
Be aware that being placed on the register will not guarantee a job, but it will greatly increase your chances of securing a position. As part of this process the recruitment team will keep all applications on file for up to 6 months and the Aboriginal Employment Officer will actively match them to relevant positions within the UNE which you can then apply for.
Please visit http://www.une.edu.au/recruit/ where you can scroll down to Reference Number 213006 – Casual Register – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders for more information.
Talk to you soon,
Tough Mudder is done and dusted and we (Soul Brothers) survived …I think…
We didn’t get too many photos on the day as we left it up to the Tough Mudder photographers (plus my camera would not have survived). We ran in the 12:40pm wave with 600 other “Mudders” from around Australia and the world.
We ran for 20km, over 21 obstacles from the one called the Mud Mile which was a mile long run through knee deep mud with a couple of 20kg sand bags on our shoulders, to the old family favorite the “Arctic Enema” which was as cold and as scary as it sounds.
You can have a look at some of the obstacles we conquered (like Everest) here… http://toughmudder.com.au/obstacles/
We got there nice and early and then sat back and laughed as we watched people try to run through the “Electro-Shock Therapy” …. For some reason we didn’t laugh when it was our turn (I suppose 10,000 volts wiped that smile right off our faces). The obstacle called the “Electric Eel” was hilarious (or should I say ridiculous) it was a waist high box, much like “electro-shock therapy” (10,000 volts), in which you had to dive into and crawl through as fast as you could. We were told beforehand that the “Electric Eel” wasn’t a compassionate kind of obstacle and it didn’t care if you cried; it didn’t care if you stopped and it didn’t care if you swore like a trooper at the top of your lungs; the shocks would just keep coming till you got your butt out of it.
The “Walk the Plank” obstacle was also scary as it was a 5m high platform at the end of a cargo net climb that you had to jump from. I was a bit hesitant but the brother Tom-Tom looked over the edge, looked back at me and then smiled as he launched his massive frame into the freezing, dark and very deep water 5m below. All in all you could say that it was a nice way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon
Well it was fun, it was tough and it was satisfying. AND I got an orange head band how cool huh?
Until the next adventure