On the eighth floor, the very top of HQ, Jake is about to start his weekly work placement day. At 18, Jake, a Yorta Yorta and Wurundjeri man, is the first Indigenous intern at Tennis Australia. A sporty young man, who trained with the Essendon Football Club’s James Hird Academy and competed in the AFL under-18s championships, he said his interest in Tennis Australia was sparked during the Buldau Yioohgen Northern Experience.
In Darwin, the program’s participants joined Tennis Australia’s inaugural National Indigenous Tennis Carnival.
“It was great to see the smiles on the kids’ faces and see more Indigenous youth getting to play out there,” said.
In Darwin, Jake had a chance to meet tennis legends Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Ian Goolagong, as well as Nova Peris, the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal, as part of the women’s hockey team in Atlanta in 1996.
“Just hearing her story, and how she had that strong resilience and passion and never gave up makes me believe it’s possible for people to pursue their dreams,” Jake said.
Confidence Based on a Foundation of Culture
Upon returning to year 12, Jake needed to fulfil his work-placement requirement for his Victoria Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL), and he said his experience in Buldau Yioohgen gave him the confidence to ask about interning at Tennis Australia.
While work-placement internships are not a required part of Buldau Yioohgen partnerships, Anglicare Victoria’s David Law thought it would be a good opportunity for both Jake and Tennis Australia, so he worked with Tennis Australia’s national inclusion coordinator, Jay Schuback, to create a place for Jake.
Today, Jake is based in Tennis Australia’s human resources department, but he also spends time with different teams, including public relations and media.
Jake said he was nervous when he first started, but as someone who was raised with a strong spiritual connection to his culture, history, and country, he used that cultural identity as a source of strength to give him confidence in a new environment.
“It’s something that’s always with me and something that nurtured me through my childhood, so I just rely back on it to feel confident and strong,” he said.
Leanne Brooke, General Manager of The Long Walk, which partnered with Anglicare Victoria to create Buldau Yioohgen, said representation at places like Tennis Australia is critical to encourage more Aboriginal youth to see themselves in these roles.
“You can’t be what you can’t see,” she said.
Buldau Yioohgen partners with leading Australian institutions, including the Australian National Academy of Music, Federation University Australia, Opera Australia, and Tennis Australia. As part of the program, participants meet with different leaders and employees to learn about the varied roles at our partner institutions. These connections give our partners a chance to learn about the interests and aspirations of young people—opening doors on both sides. For more information about partnering with Buldau Yioohgen, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.