AFL SportsReady graduate presents to United Nations
Young Aboriginal woman and former trainee Tahlia Biggs is on a mission to help her community. Her latest expedition was a trip to New York with her Richmond Football Club co-workers to represent Indigenous Australia at the United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
‘The experience was truly indescribable. I am still processing the magnitude of the event and all the amazing things I learned,’ said Tahlia, 21, who is originally from Albury/Wodonga and is a proud Barkindji and Ngiyampaa woman.
Richmond Football Club became the first ever-sporting club to attend the forum in partnership with the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, to talk about the journey of the Korin Gamadji Institute (KGI) and how KGI uses the power of sport and the Tigers brand to help promote and celebrate Indigenous culture in hope to bridge the gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people.
‘It was a pretty pivotal moment for the club,’ she said.
Tahlia has been working at Richmond Football Club for over a year as their KGI Programs Coordinator. The Institute is an education and training facility at the heart of Richmond Football Club that focuses on providing support in leadership and employment pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is also how Tahlia got her start in the industry.
‘I was actually a participant of the REAL program in 2011 and after many amazing experiences became a peer leader on the programs.
At KGI we work with Indigenous youth to help them develop their career skills, leadership qualities and cultural connection. It’s an inspiring organisation to be a part of and I’m lucky enough to have gotten my dream job.’
Tahlia travelled to the UN with three other representatives including Thara Brown, KGI Program Manager, Aaron Clarke, Director of KGI and Simon Matthews, General Manager of Communications and Marketing at Richmond.
‘I did think for a moment, why have I been chosen to go? It was such an incredible opportunity and it was hard to get my head around why. But I realised it was to ensure we had someone to represent Indigenous youth and that made me proud.
It was important we had a young voice because connecting and inspiring our young Indigenous people is what our work is all about.’
The team also discussed themes such as the establishment of ‘Dreamtime at the G’ and Indigenous affairs in Australia.
‘The UN created a really culturally safe space, a beautiful international focus where people around the world could discuss Indigenous issues. It was a warm and heartfelt vibe.”
For Tahlia the most challenging part was listening to some of the stories of suffrage in Indigenous communities around the world.
‘It was confronting and at times heartbreaking to hear the issues happening to First Nations people all over the planet such as the violence Native women experience in places like Latin America, it’s gut wrenching.
The forum spurred my passion, even more, to help my Indigenous community, to fight the injustices and to speak up for our young Aboriginal people.’
Tahlia has come back from her journey filled with a newfound drive to make a difference. At only a tender age, she has achieved already so much in her life including; Volunteering for Independent MP Cathy McGowan in Federal Parliament, meeting with Linda Burney, the first Aboriginal women elected to Federal Parliament and Ken Wyatt, the first Aboriginal Minister. Tahlia even representing KGI at State Parliament on the YMCA Victorian Youth Parliament.
In amongst all her endeavours, she has also managed to complete an AFL SportsReady traineeship with NAB, which provided her with a range of skills to help in her current role.
‘I’ve got a long way to go but for the moment I know what I want to do, keep sharing my voice and doing what I can for my community.
Aboriginal culture is strong in leaving a legacy behind for our young people so it is important the youth have a voice and they are involved as much as possible. This is why I am passionate about what I do.’
Whatever the future holds for Tahlia we know she is someone the broader Australian community needs.
To find out more about the diverse range of rewarding careers available through vocational education and training, and watch the real skills for real careers video, visit www.myskills.gov.au
DATE: 30th of May 2018
AUTHOR: Marissa Pagliarello
IMAGE: Tahlia at her Punt road home