"As I sit in my lounge room I reflect on the past 20 years of the ‘Opening The Doors Foundation’. My heart skips a beat; the incredible gifts my family has received and continues to receive still boggles my mind.
Back in 2003, when I applied for ‘Opening The Doors Foundation’ funding for my children, we had just moved suburbs, so new school uniforms were needed for all.
My eldest was moving to high school which was great, but how would we afford to pay for all the things she needed? We were just getting by as it was. I was a stay-at-home mum, my youngest was 7-year-old twins. Working around them all was difficult.
I had no idea that the simple act of filling in a form would lead me and my family on a totally different path. All of our lives would change for the better.
I found employment with the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria. I would go on to become the leader many years later.
My children would struggle through school, but they would finish and go on to do things I never had the courage to dream of … let alone to do.
My daughter is now working for the government and is trying to work her way up the corporate ladder. My sons have gone on to achieve their own greatness.
They have all grown up under the Aboriginal flag. Good or bad and they fought for their people on many fronts that the general population doesn’t understand. They stood up and acknowledging their Aboriginality even though they “didn’t look it”. This brought whole other forms of struggles. I am proud of the children I have raised and continue to raise. These were the gems that were gifted to us, not only as a family but as Aboriginal people. In modern society, they are making their way and leading the way for other young Aboriginal people to follow.
My father taught me that education was the one thing that no one could take away from you no matter what you went through in your life. Though my dad never had the opportunity to be educated he taught himself to read. And did he read! He read anything he could get his hands on and he encouraged me to do the same, as I did in turn with my children and now my grandchildren.
My father and his brothers and sisters were treated like third-class citizens. It was because of this hurt that he educated himself. He hoped that he could use this education to help all his Aboriginal brothers and sisters.
You would understand that education is the most valuable of the things that people can receive. It gives them the tools to break the shackles of poverty, to throw off the stigma of race, and prove they are as good as the next person. With an education, you can do anything.
I always talk about how, if we as Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples can change the path we have been forced on, we can change the future. But we need to do it for ourselves! The best way we can do that is to educate our youth. How can we expect our young ones to lead the way, break through the glass ceiling and reach the top in this country, and for that matter around the world unless we give them the tools to do that?
Education is the one gift that will truly enable people to strive for their dreams. When they see others achieving, it will encourage a whole generation to expect, want, and strive for better.
My youngest son has recently started a Traineeship in Aboriginal Mental Health, this makes me so proud. He wants to give back to the community; working for healing is a great place to start.
I am reflecting on this because this is the first year that a grandchild has gone to school … and yes, Opening The Doors Foundation is supporting him. We all have big dreams for when he grows up. He has a lot to live up to. There is a community he must learn from, support, and contribute to so that he too can become the best ‘role model’ he can be.
Hopefully when he grows up Australia will have an Aboriginal Prime Minister. We hope that we are educating all our boys and girls now. That’s the Dream."