What an achievement it would be that one day, all Australian children can wake up with the same chance to reach their potential, regardless of their race, location or economic status.
For me, reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is possible. However, for Australia to truly embrace reconciliation we must increase our efforts to educate all Australians on our Indigenous history, culture and languages.
My personal goal to work towards reconciliation. But reconciliation needs quality education available to everyone, a strong connection to culture and large-scale investment in the Indigenous economy.
It was this belief that drove me, a Gamilaraay man from Tamworth, to create the Bawurra Foundation. “Bawurra” means red kangaroo in the Gamilaraay language. It symbolises strength and leadership. This non-profit organisation is focused on providing resources that can both boost the engagement of Indigenous youth in the classroom and increase the cultural and historical knowledge of non-Indigenous school students.
Its basis is the Bawurra Library; a digital library of community-sourced and culturally appropriate content that is both engaging for Indigenous students and a new way for non-Indigenous students to understand our shared history.
The Bawurra Library features: Indigenous languages, dreaming stories, Elder biographies, historical information on people and places, social and emotional wellbeing resources, and secondary and tertiary education scholarship opportunities. All delivered via digital tablets donated to schools. The library provides a platform for communities, across Australia, to share their valuable knowledge, culture and languages with the Elders of tomorrow and all Australian school students.
Bawurra’s work engages with many Indigenous communities to help preserve valuable Songlines, language and history. Five public schools in Tingha, Toomelah, Boggabilla, Moree and Taree incorporate the library into their curriculum. We also have started to expand into the Juvenile Justice System, working with Reiby JJC in Campbelltown to re-connect their Indigenous clients back to their culture.
I’m fortunate to have a strong family who gave me a solid foundation; a family who taught me the value of education and supported me to achieve the things I have. It is my hope that by providing these key resources, young Indigenous children who may lack a strong support network will be able to spur their own love for learning.
It is my dream that one day, these Elders of tomorrow will realise their full potential.
The focus of this year’s National Reconciliation Week is Don’t Keep History A Mystery: Learn, Share, Grow. This message is echoed in my work with the Bawurra Foundation and underpins our journey towards reconciliation not only as a Foundation, but as a Nation.
Chairman, Bawurra Foundation & Consultant, Risk Assurance, KPMG Australia.