The First Step Feb. 2011 - Page 4

Student: So what society are you apart of? Me: The Bond Indigenous Awareness Society Student: Oh, you’re Indigenous? Me: Uh, no? Student: Why are you on BIAS then? These questions are frequent for me. It seems one must be Indigenous to care about Indigenous issues. Wrong. I am not Indigenous but for some reason I feel the need to do my part to ‘close the gap’ and to see equality in my lifetime. Where it does not matter what your cultural heritage is. Black or white, Indigenous or non-Indigenous. I had always been aware of Indigenous people, my father up in Cairns with several Indigenous friends which he shared his childhood memories as most parents do. My father’s best friend who was a young Indigenous man committed suicide in the bathroom at a public showground when he was sixteen years old. I guess knowing this, I could always see something different about Indigenous people. My mother on the other hand, was often (and still is) mistaken for an Indigenous person, despite being of Thai descent, who grew up in Malaysia. Fear of the unknown kicked in when in Australia, both she and her brother faced racial taunts and discrimination. I was brought up aware of my parent’s childhoods and I strongly opposed their peers actions for as long as I can remember. I was born and raised in a place which had a fair Indigenous population. The stereotypes that even some of my extended family members have to date involved asking for cigarettes, a light or fifty cents outside the local Centrelink office, drunks passed out at train stations drenched in the smell of beer and liquor and young children riding around on their bikes, with a coke bottle filled with paint. Sure, I can honestly say I have witnessed all of these things, but I saw them differently. I remember catching a train into Fortitude Valley, when I was sharing a carriage with a young Indigenous boy, perhaps sixteen years old. It may have been coincidental, but when a police officer came around, he asked that young man to present his ticket. That wasn’t a problem, he only asked that young man. Nobody else. Instead of condemnation, I saw the opportunity for change. If I were to follow every other person’s belief, what would that achieve? Rather conforming, I chose to form my own opinions on the issue. My interest and full awareness of the issue began when I took Health Education and Modern History in my senior years of high school. Both subjects had an Indigenous component. In health, I learnt of the devastating life expectancy gap, education levels and health standards. My true patience was tested during Modern History when an ignorant young woman expressed her view that it doesn’t matter if Indigenous culture was fading. They deserved it. They were taking taxpayers money to spend on booze and smokes. It was opinions like hers, I wanted to alter. It wasn’t until university when I got the opportunity to be a part of the Social Justice Trip in 2010 when I had a chance to make a change. From then, I was successful getting the position of Promotions Director which allowed me to advocate the cause. From then, the team I was working with supported my initiation of ‘IndigiMail’, my role then evolved to Publications Director. A good friend of mine, who is an international student, saw me working on this publication when she told me she was quite surprised to learn $??????)%??????????]????M????????????????????????????????????????%?????????)?????????????????%???????????????????Q????????????????????????????)????????????????????%??????????%????????????????????????????)????????????????????????????????????????Q??? ????%?????????)??????M???????????????????????%??????????????????????)%?????????????????e???????????????????????????????????????????????)???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????)???????????????()]??? ???((0