Summer holidays would always mean a family road trip. Packed in the back of the station wagon we would meander up the Pacific highway for the annual pilgrimage north to see my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. As the eldest child I almost always managed to get a window seat, leaving my younger sister to be squished in the middle… at least until she outgrew me.
I have always loved those road trips and with family as far afield as Perth there was always somewhere new to explore, another picture to capture and another family memory to make.
On one trip we drove through the Queensland town of Blackall on a four-week circumnavigation of Central Australia. I had just gotten out of the car to help my Dad reverse park the camper trailer. As I turned around to check his positioning he began to move backwards… straight over my foot!
However, in a loving family all travel-related accidents were soon forgiven though maybe not forgotten.
I spent my childhood in Sydney’s multicultural western suburbs, though growing up I didn’t have much understanding of my Indigenous heritage. It was only when there was some digging done into the family tree that we able to confirm a secret that had long been suspected in my Mum’s family. And then the stories came out.
Though my family are Kamilaroi, my Nan was born further south in the central New South Wales town of Orange. When we visited she would always tell another little story about her upbringing. About how she used to take her siblings to the pictures and sneak up the back to sit with the boys from town or the time she was told to say her family was Spanish to deflect notice from their skin colour.
Working at NITV has been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn more about my own story and, importantly, to share the stories of others.
One of the projects that I am involved is writing explainers to present the story behind an event like the 67’ Referendum or Survival Day. It has been such a privilege to be able to share our history, particularly when so many people were never taught about it.
With an inspiring high school teacher as a mother, the importance of getting a good education was always stressed in our household. Thankfully, I always enjoyed school and threw myself in to any extra-curricular activity I could from musicals to touch footy.
Despite this I do remember encountering some casual racism, even then. The first time I sat a NAPLAN paper, I asked a teacher whether I should ‘tick the box’ to say I was of Aboriginal heritage having never seen one before. She replied that I would only need to tick that box if I needed help at school and as I did not, I shouldn’t tick it.
As a student it was frustrating to be made aware of the assumptions that people had about Indigenous people and success.
I decided to study a double degree in Media and Law at Macquarie University after loving English and debating at school. While it has definitely been challenging at times, it has opened my eyes to the impact of the legal system and policy decisions on the lives of everyday people.
After volunteering to write an article about Macquarie’s first team at the Indigenous University Games I got hooked and I have continued to write for both the student magazine and Law School publication.
For me, journalism is a way to promote discussion around the issues that I think are important and, hopefully, to generate some action.
As part of my degree I choose to undertake an internship at NITV. On my third day I got placed with the awesome online team and was asked to pitch my first story on the spot. While it was a little bit daunting, I was lucky enough to be asked to back and have been working here part-time while I finish my Law degree.
I still have the love of travel instilled in me as a child and last year I completed a semester abroad studying at Oxford-Brookes University in the United Kingdom. On the weekends I can generally be found spending time with my family, my friends or my husband and looking out for my next adventure.
Working at NITV has been an opportunity for me to ensure that our stories are told and not hidden away like they were in my family. I want to be able to share stories that allow Indigenous Australians to take pride in who we are, in what we have achieved and in what we can achieve in the future.