A Message from young people at Mt Druitt Indigenous Church
Hi to you all,
First of all we would like you to thank you for the messages you sent us. It was good to hear your life-saving tips. We also know how tough life can get and we use many of the same tips you do.
We are not sure if you know but we, Aboriginal people, are the traditional owners of this country. We were here long before anyone else and we would like to welcome you all to our country.
Like you guys, we also went through lots of difficulties in life. We often face racism, unemployment, problems at school and sometimes problems at home. Sometimes it feels like there is no justice for Aboriginal people in Australia. One of us works in the juvenile justice system, and people ask him why there are so many Aboriginal people in there. Our people die in the jails. One of the youth leaders has a father who has been in prison seven times because he didn’t make it back to the Aboriginal reserve by curfew time at 6pm.
We also ‘think about those who went before’. We like this life-saving tip. Nelson Mandela also inspires us. As Indigenous people we need to find ways of surviving. We also believe that one person can change a whole community or even a country and that is why we stick together. We are already making the difference here in Mt Druitt area. We have around 60 young people and children that come to our activities. We have a youth group and a kids club and we are making a difference to them. Recently, one of our leaders spoke to three young people that had just joined the youth group. They asked to talk because they were bored. Our leader and another older person took them to Bondi beach. It was the first time they had ever seen the beach! We spent only about one hour there, but they loved it. They were like little kids in the water and they slept in the car on the way home. When life gets too hard, some of us also head to the waves, just like you do. The sound of the waves at the beach makes us relaxed. Getting into the water and just floating is calming.
Just like you, we also know how it feels to lose a friend or a family member. We were sorry to hear that some of you have lost your loved ones in wars. We would like to say that our heart goes out to you. We also use the life-saving tip ‘remembering our friends’. When we miss them, sometimes we meet together and talk about the ones who have passed away. Sharing stories help people to heal. With time, things get better but we will never forget the ones who have died.
We also liked your life-saving tip ‘memory is freedom’. Your idea of making a memory book that is filled with things that are special to you sounds great. Some of us keep memories by photographing things. This is also fun!
And some of us also use the life-saving tip ‘the sporting field is a whole different world’. We agree with you, when we are on the sporting field, we don’t have an empty place in our minds to think about problems. Sports also help us with aggression. We do not go to the field to hurt people; instead we transform our anger into something positive by focusing on the game. Aboriginal people love sports. We like rugby league and rugby union, soccer, basketball, netball, volleyball … And did you know it was Aboriginal people who created AFL?
Now we’d like to share with you two of our life-saving tips:
- Staying connected to our culture.
It is good to be Aboriginal because we are connected to one another and to our culture. Sometimes here in the church, the boys go fishing. We have a competition to catch the biggest fish and sometimes they even do better than the elders! Our people love fishing. We also like going bush because it makes us feel calmer. We sometimes go camping to get away from city life and to get away from the problems at home. When we are out there in the country, we like to tell our stories on cave walls. We got this from our culture and we keep it alive. We are also connected with our traditional dance, art and music. We tell our stories through them and it takes a lot of feeling out of us. Some of us have learnt this from our parents and they have learnt this from their parents. It goes from generation to generation. It is good to be Aboriginal because we are connected to one another and to our culture.
- Staying close to our family and believing in ourselves
Our family is very important to us and that is why we are the people we are. Peer pressure is a big problem for young people. We think people get into trouble sometimes because they get pressured to do things. We see girls who dress themselves up, but it does not suit them. And one of us says he is lucky his Dad is a pastor otherwise he might be in jail too. Some of us have been in trouble in the past. One of us remembers times in life when she used to drink and use drugs. She got into trouble many times with the police but then decided to change when she had children. She is glad her family did not give up on her and helped her through. People can change if they have support. That’s why we stay close to our family and believe in ourselves.
Well, these are some of our life saving tips for you. To finish, we would like to ask you to tell your friends and family here in Australia and back in your countries, that we are also survivors. Please share with them what we have told you about our culture.
For those who came from another country, we would like to know more about your people, traditions and cultures. Please send us more messages if you have anything to share. For the survivors of the wars: we respect you guys for what you have been through and for the ways you have been using your life-saving tips.
We will pray for you
Thank you again for the messages you sent to us.
Young people and youth leaders at Mt Druitt Indigenous Church