Five of the girls taking part in the Young Mob roadtrip stand by the Brewarrina Fish Traps, the oldest man-made structure in the world. Photo by Bridie Walsh, World Vision.
Sitting with the inspiring young Aboriginal women involved in World Vision’s Young Mob Program, we are on an Aboriginal cultural tour of north-west New South Wales. We’re listening to Aunty Isabel speak of her own dreams and passions.
“I love my job,” she explains. “I‘d never give it up.”
We are in a semi-circle, in the shed of Aunty Isabel’s home. Some of us are sanding newly cut clap sticks made from Mulga wood. The wood was collected by Aunty Isabel’s husband to make the traditional musical instrument.
As an Aboriginal Education Officer, Aunty Isabel works in the local school of her remote community. She is well-respected.
“When I was young I was inquisitive,” she says. “I wanted to know all about my family.”
Her life-long desire to learn and ask questions has given her a knowledge and understanding of her culture that is acknowledged and respected in her community.
I am juggling cameras and recording devices – part of my role is to capture the stories and experiences the Young Mob have during our road trip. The girls are armed with questions.
They ask about life in community, growing up before electricity, what types of traditional hunting and bush food there are and the roles of men and women in community, experiences of the stolen generation years and what Aunty Isabel now hopes for the future.
“My hopes and dreams,” she explains, “are for our kids to get a great education and a good job.”
The Young Mob teenagers are at a time in their own lives where they are making important decisions about their future. I watch them visibly lean forward to hear what Aunty Isabel has to say.
“You can be whatever you want to be. You just need an education. You just need to apply yourself.”
Being a Education Officer, Aunty Isabel is a motivator and mentor to the kids in her community.
She encourages her kids by saying, “we can help you, we can guide you, but when all is said and done, you need to do this for you.”
Its sage advice for anyone, young and old, and I can’t help thinking that Aunty Isabel is speaking especially to me.
But I also know that each of the girls listening feels the same way. They are making decisions to stay at school and pursue jobs in banking, hospitality, the arts and the other opportunities opening up to them. Opportunities their parents and grandparents didn’t have.
Passionate mentors like Aunty Isabel can make all the difference. When there is someone committed to your growth and development you are more likely to succeed.
The environment around you supports you to make the most of opportunities. This is the role of the Young Mob Program in the lives of young Aboriginal people.
It provides strong Aboriginal mentors, curriculum to learn public speaking and develop leadership, life-skills and importantly a connection to culture to grow strong Aboriginal identities and self-esteem.
Aunty Isabel’s words speak to the heart of each girl’s dreams and aspirations, and to my own.
“Tell us what you want to be,” declares Aunty Isabel. “Aim high. Set goals for yourself, and you will get what you want.”
“Be a dreamer and you will make those dreams come true.’”
The Young Mob Program has been running since 2006. You can support Young Mob through World Vision’s Linking Hands program.
Bridie Walsh is the communications officer for Australia Programs at World Vision.