Aboriginal gathering has positive impact
Mother of trainee, Nadia Schoonbeek, has thanked AFL SportsReady for giving her daughter a new found appreciation, understanding and confidence in her Aboriginal identity.
Two weeks ago Nadia attended Queensland’s Aboriginal gathering which was held on the Gold Coast for current trainees. AFL SportsReady holds gatherings in each state for Aboriginal trainees to provide the opportunity to build positive and lasting relationships with one another and their mentors. Our gatherings focus on building leadership qualities and providing an opportunity for cultural affirmation and celebration.
‘The gathering covered everything from cultural beliefs to Indigenous identity, bringing Indigenous kids together to connect and learn more about their culture,’ said Nadia’s Mother, Michelle Schoonbeek.
‘It’s a great way for the kids to feel culturally connected. It’s about uniting with others from the same background and taking pride in who you are,’ she explained.
Through these gatherings AFL SportsReady aims to help trainees recognise they are not alone in their journey and to support them in their traineeship.
‘Sometimes Nadia feels judged, she feels alone as an Indigenous young person but when she attended the gathering it all changed. She felt like she belonged, she felt recognised.’ Mrs Schoonbeek said.
‘Indigenous children don’t get praised enough but at the gatherings they are commended for their achievements, for their culture and for being Aboriginal.’
Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mentor, Marcia Laurie, spent some of the time discussing significant Aboriginal events – Freedom Ride, NAIDOC, Reconciliation Week, Mabo, Apology Day, 1967 Referendum and sharing stories from her own experience. Marcia is a 5th Generation descendant from Junobin – Nughi Clan from Minjiberra on Quandamooka Country (Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay) and mentors trainees from Mareeba in North Queensland to Kempsey in New South Wales, looking as far west as Charleville.
‘Something that really stuck with Nadia and moved myself and my husband was Marcia’s analogy about the milk and coffee. Nadia being of both Aboriginal and Dutch heritage, always felt like an outcast, that she never really had an identity. Marcia taught her that no matter how much milk you add to coffee, it will always be coffee,’ exclaimed Mrs Schoonbeek.
‘This analogy brought tears to our eyes because for once in her life, my daughter came to understand who she is and who she will always be,’ she continued.
‘I am touched and so grateful a non-Indigenous organisation has put so much time, effort and thought into the wellbeing of our Aboriginal youth. It’s so rare and I truly feel blessed we are a part of it.’
If you know someone that would be interested in doing a traineeship, get them to call 1300 133 222 or visit aflsportsready.com.au for more information.
DATE: 6 NOVEMBER, 2015
ARTICLE: MARISSA PAGLIARELLO
IMAGE: Nadia Schoonbeek