Friday, 16 May 2014

Leading, but not up the garden path

It is “Proud to be indigenous week”, so I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about what I admire in the Aboriginal leaders who have made an impression on me. This week has also been the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and we have many of our great leaders there.

Leadership is not something I aspire too, however from time to time I wonder if I was to be a leader, what qualities I would need to be successful.

It is very easy to sit back and criticise but very few people seem to consider our strengths.
 As a semi-young Aboriginal woman, (at 33 I am not youth, middle aged or elderly) I have already met some amazing people in my life. Many of these amazing people have assisted in shaping me into the person that I am. My mum, of course, is one of them. While these people know I value them, I want to share with you, why.

Qualities I admire in an Aboriginal leader:

The Mentor - leaders who mentor the next generation. Those who see the future of our people in the passion, desire and drive of youth. They help shape them into a force to be reckoned with. These leaders spend the time, time they often don’t have, ensuring that Aboriginal people will have more amazing leaders to be proud of in the future.

The visionary - fearless leaders who at times have had to go it alone, who have faced immense challenges but because of their vision and passion to keep moving forward.

The lateral thinker - these leaders challenge the norm; will not, do not accept that things have to stay the same because they have always been that way. These people’s ideas may seem wacky or too hard to start with but they always seem to pull of the big jobs.

The fighter – the leader who despite numerous knock downs refuses to give in or give-up. They will fight until their last breath regardless of the personal cost.

The quite achiever- This leader often get the least amount of notice. They are steady and methodical, shying away from the limelight but are always working towards the goal of creating a better future for us.

The rule breaker  - The leader who doesn’t think like other people, that sees rules as guidelines and who will, when the rules hamper the outcome, sidestep them and make it work for our people.

The networker – the leader who, through their connections can make things happen to the benefit of our Peoples. They bring with them a horde of people which cannot be ignored.

The get in and just do it –They are the people who will just do what needs to be done. They have no problems getting their hands dirty and it doesn’t matter if it is packing boxes or being on the mic, they are up for the task.

The fountain of knowledge – these leaders are the one you go to when you need to know anything about anything. They seem to be a walking encyclopaedia. They crave knowledge above all else because they know it is through knowledge we can fight.

The communicator – this person can say things that most people could never say, should never say, but they do it with such finesse that the message is not lost nor offensive.

The community minded- This leader puts their community and other Aboriginal people before themselves. They are not interested in the attention, the acclaim or the pay packet. They are work to assist in making the future of our Peoples better.

The collaborator – this leader works in collaboration with everyone regardless of age and experience. They see value in life experience as much as education and always make sure that the people they are working with feel valued. Respect and trust is the key to the way they do business!

The one thing all Aboriginal leaders I admire have in common is that they are there for our Peoples rather than themselves. They use WE not I.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It is just a few qualities that are really valuable to me. Qualities that make me proud to be Aboriginal woman. I hope it has prompted you to consider our strengths not just the negatives.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Ode to Aboriginal men; how I love you!

I love Aboriginal men!

Now do not let your mind stray some where you can't tell your mother. It is not for the reasons you are thinking a young Aboriginal woman might like men.

I am sure that you have heard of men talking about how dogs or even children attract women. Aboriginal men do not need to talk about it; they do it naturally. Despite the negative media stories about Aboriginal men, Aboriginal men are loving family men.

I have noticed that it is more common to see an Aboriginal man with a child or even children, then non-Aboriginal men. I do not mean the men at Coogee pushing their child’s stroller and trying to look “cool” by pushing it with one hand but never looking at the kid. Or the husband of my non-Aboriginal friend told me about who comes home from work, “exhausted” and needs “time to him self” before spending time with their kids.

I noticed our a large number of our men and boys at the Koori Knockout last year with children, sometimes one on the hip and another holding their hand. It was as common to see the men and boys looking after kids, as it was the women. The child could be theirs, their niece or nephew, grandchild, cousin or even a mates. Whatever their connection was with the child, they would probably call them “Uncle” as a mark of respect. I made a comment along these lines to a colleague and she had noticed the same thing. At the footy carnival in Port Lincoln in South Australia, I also noticed the amount of our men looking after children.

One of my brothers, at the hospital with his best mate, demanded he hold the newborn, of which he has the self-declared, “Godfather”. He has also declared himself the Godfather of the older brother. Because of the way our Culture places a high value on family, our men have always been around children, so for an Aboriginal man to hold a newborn is natural. Non-Aboriginal men rarely seem so natural with a newborn. By the way "family" is often used as a term used to include people we care about. For an Aboriginal man to care about a child that is not his is natural.

On the weekend at breakfast, I was talking to a friend and he mentioned that at a footy game a mate brought his new baby. When my mate asked to hold the kid, the rest of the team looked at him as if he was crazy! Crazy? Really? What is more natural than holding a child?

This phenomenon is not unusual. I regularly attend Aboriginal community events, either as a community member or in a work capacity and always notice the way our men take care of kids. I have many male friends who are proud and dedicated fathers, brother, grandfathers, uncles and “godfathers”.  If I thought you would continue to read my blog, I would recount story after story of how Aboriginal men are amazing.

Our men are often generous, tender, caring, thoughtful and considerate. For their children or children in their circle (and the circle are often quite large), they are involved in raising them and embody these values.

If you are not Aboriginal, I hope that the Aboriginal men I describe, do not contradict the image you have of our men, however I am not sure that it does not. It is unfortunate that most non-Aboriginal people do not get to see what I see. If they did, they would realise why I love our men and why I am proud to be Aboriginal.

So for the single ladies reading this I hope I have made you consider an Aboriginal man. The saying “once you go black you won’t go back” rings true for me. But not for reasons, your dirty mind, is thinking of.
a large number