The Award has changed my life by showing me that being indigenous is not a handicap. It showed me that I could be an indigenous man and be successful at the same time. I have gone on to successfully overcome the barriers I had in my life since my involvement in the Award. I have become very successful both in my work at the Department of Human Services and my role in the community as an Indigenous Leader.
Society often views young people as insignificant, having very little of worth to offer. This is magnified even more when it comes to being an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young person. In Cairns, indigenous young people are at times seen in a bad light due to the negative daily reports of crime in the media involving indigenous youth. The statistics that Kerrilee mentioned reflect the indigenous youth we work with through the Award, however it has been wonderful to witness the positive impacts my cousin Kerrilee and I have had on their lives.
I have seen a 16-year-old Aboriginal youth who had been expelled from every school in Cairns and previously been in detention for stealing cars go on to complete an apprenticeship in an abattoir as a slaughter man. I’ve seen another young Aboriginal man, also expelled from school and in trouble with the law, complete a Technical and Further Education qualification in Performing Arts (similar to an NVQ in the UK) and a young Aboriginal girl overcome chronic shyness to become all that she can be. The stories are endless!