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The importance of family and belonging by James Moreland 25 November 2013

I

am a participant of the 2013-2014 Indigenous Youth Leadership Program and am based in QLD on the Gold Coast. I just wanted to share and let people know how much of a life changing experience Block 2 has been for me. All my life I have been raised in a Western Society and have had the luxury of being raised on the Gold Coast in Queensland. For me I have always felt disconnected from my culture and heritage, and have never known how to commence my journey in being reconnected. As soon as I received the email stating that “applications now open” I knew that this was my opportunity to finally commence that journey and I knew I was ready in taking the first step. Thanks to the Jobs Australia Foundation, The IYLP Family (Mentors/Leadership Delivery Team & Participants) and the dedicated staff like Jodie & Lisa I have been embraced, supported and encouraged to truly reconnect and find my belonging in the bigger picture. The last week out in Alice Springs and being out on the Larapinta Trail has no doubt been a defining moment in my life and something that I will always cherish. The feeling of belonging was truly evident and I’ve never once in my life felt so connected to the land, country and my culture. The Program and everyone that makes the IYLP has allowed this to take place and enabled me to finally feel connected, and what it means to be a proud Indigenous Australian, so I am forever

James Moreland holding the poster after Peter Dawson from the Recognise campaign presented to the IYLP. All images supplied

thankful. When asked “what do you want out of the IYLP” my answer has always been “to be connected to my culture, and close the gap”. I never doubted that I would achieve this outcome, but I never imagined it would have happened so quickly and be so powerful. I have walked away from Block 2 of the IYLP a changed man. A man who knows the importance of his culture, his people and the important role that Young Indigenous people play in ensuring that our culture is never lost and continues to be passed down. What Jodie & Lisa have created is truly

unique, and this program I feel, is allowing Young Indigenous Leaders to educate themselves more about their culture, their own leadership capabilities and how we can make a positive change in our own community. We all know that the Indigenous Elders aren’t getting any younger and we all now play a vital part in ensuring our culture is strong and present in our communities. I can honestly say that after the past week in Alice Springs I am even more motivated and passionate about ensuring I do all that I can to learn more about my culture, heritage and that I pass this on to hopefully inspire change. Page 1


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I just wanted this to be passed on and circulated to the Jobs Australia Foundation, the Indigenous Youth Leadership Program and the wider Community, because these are real outcomes, real people making real change in their communities and around Australia. Taking two weeks of leave enabled me to discover who I am, meet my Indigenous Family (for the first time), and finally find where I belonged. I just wanted to share with you how life changing the past 2 weeks have been for me in finding myself, my family and my culture. For me I have always felt like there has been a piece of the puzzle missing in my life and I truly feel that I finally found that missing piece over the past 2 weeks. The sense of belonging that I felt over the past 2 weeks was moving and powerful, and something that I’ve never really felt before. For me I feel that this was crucial in my development and will enable me to lead in the community, as to be an effective leader in the community and move forward I feel it’s important to know your past and where you’ve come from. The smallest things for me were the biggest and most defining moments over the past 2 weeks. The small things like even seeing resemblance of me in my little

My Uncle Jason Fisher Snr and Uncle Nick Mundy and my Cousins Jayson Carberry, Quinton Carberry, Fred Mundy, Brandon Mundy, Myself James Moreland, Isaiah Ferguson and Jason Fisher Kennedy.

cousins and uncles, my cousins calling me uncle after only 2 days, and my uncle calling me his Brother. The biggest highlight for me was the fact that they were so welcoming, accepting and so proud of the Indigenous man I am, and the change I am trying to inspire. My uncle would always grab my hand everyday and place it on his heart and say “James, here is my hand and here is my heart, which you’ll always have”. I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet some Elders in the Redfern community and to spend some quality time with them over the last week I had in Redfern. This was also an amazing James with his Uncle Nick and Aunty Trina Mundy and little experience! Cousin Fred.

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I also had the opportunity to learn more about the Recognise Campaign which I highly recommend everyone goes and reads up on, and show your support by visiting http://www.recognise. org.au/ as it’s time to Recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s Constitution. My vision with this is to get more involved in this campaign and also raise more awareness here on the Gold Coast, so please watch this space! :-) I just wanted to share my story and journey with you, as I think it’s important we remind ourselves of the importance of family and belonging. For me this experience has just increased my motivation levels to lead and do well in the community as well as work together to achieve common goals. I thank you for the connection/ relationship we have and I look forward to continuing working with you in the future.


James moreland shares his story