Fifteen young Indigenous people from around Victoria travelled to the Northern Territory as part of the Buldau Yioohgen’s ‘Big Dreams’ Leadership Academy’s ‘Northern Experience,’ a cultural, educational and leadership immersion trip.
The group were accompanied by Anglicare Victoria, The Long Walk, Bendigo District Aboriginal Co-Operative (BDAC), Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-Operative, Yorta Yorta Elder Aunty Pam Pedersen and Wiradjuri Elder and Tennis Australia Indigenous Coach Uncle Ian Goolagong.
The young people were thrilled to volunteer at Tennis Australia’s National Indigenous Tennis Carnival where they served meals to over 500 carnival participants and attendees.
For academy member and aspiring AFL player Jake, volunteering was really important as it helped him meet new people and give back. “Being able to work and give back to the community – I love doing that. Serving kids, people that are playing tennis, Elders and the adults – I feel like that was a great opportunity,” he said.
They were able to take tennis tips from two the best tennis players of all time, Evonne and Ian Goolagong and took part in Indigenous art and music workshops.
The group also took part in a powerful cultural session, “Your Culture, Your Journey,” by local Yanyuwa and Larrakia man and Cultural Consultant Kim Mulholland. The group reflected on their own connections to culture and explored what effective leadership means. The group learnt that leadership is the work of visionaries and strong leadership is when those who can see a perspective that others don’t see can take action to pave the way forward.
The new knowledge gained by the group from Kim will stay with the young people for life as they work through their own leadership journeys.
For Kaitlyn, the session with Kim inspired her to learn more: “What I would definitely like to do more of in the future is learn more about my culture and more people’s stories and help other people learn more about their culture,” she says.
For aspiring journalist Charlise, taking part in the cultural session was an important part of the experience. “There isn’t just one way to talk or be proud of your culture or just one way to show it – there’s actually all these different ways…you can talk to different groups like these or you can go out on TV or you can lead marches. There’s just so many different things that you can do.”
Sporting great Nova Peris OAM and her son Jack spoke to the group about never giving up on their dreams and the importance of sacrificing and working hard to achieve your future goals and staying in school. “Don’t be running each other down…lift each other up. Be proud of who you are,” she said.
The group also took part in a fishing session which allowed them to reflect on the past few days and what they have learnt, as well as embrace the new networks they have made.
The final day involved a powerful cultural reflection session with Uncle Ian and Aunty Pam at Litchfield National Park.
“It’s been great having the Elders on board, because they are able to share their knowledge and the experiences they went through and pass on strong resilience and motivation to push through tough moments. To have a one-on-one chat with them – it’s beautiful,” said Jake.
“Being one of the oldest on camp – you get viewed more as a leader. You’ve got to keep humble, respectful and keep your resilience and lead by example. I feel like this helps with my leadership,” he said.
The experience and new networks made by the group is invaluable and will take the next generation of the Buldau Yioohgen Academy well into the future as our very successful and capable next generation leaders.
The Buldau Yioohgen ‘Big Dream’s Leadership Academy is facilitated by The Long Walk and Anglicare Victoria. The program brings together community, cultural and sporting groups to support young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and gives them the networks and supports as they strive towards their educational, employment and leadership goals.
The young people who take part in the program return to their local communities are given the opportunities and the networks to take part in work experience with one of the academy partners, as well as form a youth advisory committee.
To read more about the Academy, read the most recent newsletter.