DPC speakers series with Digi Youth Arts


9 July 2019




Multifunction Rooms 1 and 2, Level 41, 1 William Street, Brisbane CBD


Digi Youth Artists (DYA) are a not-for-profit arts organisation that shares the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. As a leading youth arts organisation, DYA creates change through artistic excellence, advocacy and ensuring young people are at the core of all that they do.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander emerging artists and leaders responded to the 2019 NAIDOC Week theme ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future.’

Learn about the issues driving the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and their vision for the future.

If you missed the DYA performance, you can watch the video presentation.

Leighton Craig: Welcome to this Speaker series event featuring Digi Youth Arts, in celebration of NAIDOC week. Well for those of you who don't know me, I'm Leighton Craig I’m the Cabinet Secretary in Department of the premier and Cabinet. But I'm also very proud to be the Departments cultural capability champion of change and that's something I'm very proud of and we are very active in our work in the Department around our cultural capability action plan.

I'd like to start today by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet. I recognise their connection to land, sea and community and I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. I would also like to take the opportunity to welcome this morning. The Honourable Leanne Enoch, Minister for Environment and Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts. The Minister may have a very personal connection with someone at the front today, not just the Cabinet Secretary.

Well, it's really great to stand here today during NAIDOC week and I'm excited to introduce to you shortly our special guests. Um, NAIDOC Week brings together Australians from all walks of life to celebrate a truly incredible history, culture and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Island peoples. The theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week is ‘Voice. Treaty Truth. Let's work together for a shared future’ and colleagues, we live in an ancient land and we are truly privileged to have the lived experience of a voice that is, that's thousands of years old, and through this voice Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples have shared their practices. The skills and stories for generations. We really do have so much knowledge and leadership available to us and through Elders and you know, we really do need to do a bit more to make sure we’re attuned to that and I genuinely believe that it's incumbent upon all public servants to be listening more closely to that voice.

On that note, I would also like to acknowledge and celebrate the contribution of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples that they've made, and continue to make, to the Queensland public service, and the delivery of services, projects and programs across government. Only last week on Friday, I was in Wellington, New Zealand meeting with some of my counterparts from across all jurisdictions. And the Cabinet Secretary from New Zealand actually commenced the proceedings by welcoming us all in Maori, and he's a pakeha man, and that was then followed by his entire contingent of staff of the Cabinet office all stood and sung a greeting to us in Maori. I think the Australians in the room, all looked at each other and had a collective realisation that we've got a long way to go. I was reflecting on the fact that I knew all the words to that song myself from my time in primary school in South Auckland. And I won't tell you how many years ago that was, but that's something to reflect on that that number of years ago, that song was still with me and taught to me in primary school. I could talk at length about some of the things we're doing in our Cultural Capability Action plan, but I know you are dying to see our special guests.

So today's event does present a great opportunity for us, to hear a voice and enjoy a great performance. Digi Youth Arts is a not for profit arts organization, for those of you who aren't familiar with it, that shares stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. Through the production of thought inspiring cultural works Digi Youth Arts aims to educate audiences on traditional culture and contemporary Indigenous perspectives. They strive to create change through artistic excellence, advocacy and ensuring young people have a voice. Through their programs, they are shaping the next generation of cultural and arts leaders. I've… I have taken the opportunity myself to check out the Digi Youth Arts band, The Ancient Bloods, which is a great name I have to say, on Spotify and JJJ Unearthed, and I suggest that you all…you're in for a treat and you can do likewise yourselves

I won’t say anymore. I'm really pleased to welcome these young community leaders here today and to share with us their stories and experiences through music and spoken word so please join me in welcoming Loki, Nadia, Ethan and Joella.

Loki Liddle: Hello everybody, thank you very much that Welcome to Country before and thank you very much for presenting us there. I’m Loki, I’m Djaberadjabera man from up in the Kimberleys.

Ethan Enoch: I’m Ethan I'm a saltwater man from Quandamooka country.

Joella Warkill: Hi I'm Joella, I’m a South Sea Island and Aboriginal woman my people are the [unable to transcribe] people.

Nadia Havea Morrison: I'm Nadia and I am Butchulla from Fraser Island and Garawa from Gulf of Carpentaria.

Thanks guys. I'd also like to start off by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the lands on which we gather here today and we're going to start off with our Acknowledgement song, we always do this one first. This is ‘This Land’.

[Song – Loki pays guitar and Nadia sings]
I am woman with ancient blood, blazing like the skies above.
Red dirt, black sky and golden veins, heavy weight in my family name.
Many stand by me as I continue to breathe, to breathe.
It comes so naturally when I’m connected to our history, history.
And I feel it in this moment, I feel the earth moving
I feel it in this moment, I feel the earth moving.
It shows my soul, my home, in this land, this land.
It shows my soul, my home, in this land, this land.
I am a woman of ancient blood, this is my land you’re standing on
I’ve lived my life ready for a war, my people told me to stand tall.
I hear the calls.
And I feel it in this moment, I feel the earth moving
I feel it in this moment, I feel the earth moving.
It shows my soul, my home, in this land, this land.
It shows my soul, my home, in this land, this land.
So walk with me and I’ll walk with you
But please walk gently like my ancestors used to do
It shows my soul, my home, in this land, this land.
It shows my soul, my home, in this land, this land.
It shows my soul, my home, in this land, this land.
It shows my soul, my home, in this land, this land.
[song ends]

Thank you.

Joella: Hello. This piece, the 1st piece that I will perform today is called ‘Note to Note’ and this piece is inspired by that work very well-known Indigenous artist named Ryan Pressly. His artwork is called Blood Money that pays homage and honour to our Indigenous heroes.

[Spoken word poem by Joella]
From note to note 10 to 20, 20 to 50 as the currency builds so does my pride, so does my stride.
An atmosphere filled with our heroes surrounded by their resilience.
I’m international never mind place, I’m for humanity, all one race.
That is Oodgeroo’s brilliance, Mingerabah her home she envisioned a space so many were blinded to.
A space exactly this very room, her dream come true.
Vincent Linyarry, famous for his interaction with Gough Whitlam.
Red soil between two hands, creating moments in our history that still stand, the persistence of a strong man.
Celebrating our heroes as we should, celebrating our heroes as we would.
Honouring those who came before the same way Yagan did by upholding his law, Noongar law.
Fanny Balbuk, Noongar woman, spoke Native Title and path into existence when she shared our history, with anthropologist Bates, teaching us that it is never too late, our significance never fades.
The water separates the state now named Tasmania, where the inspiring Truganini and Fanny Cochrane Smith came to be. As their stories tell us, one experience of utter pain shows her strength and hope to be free. Now here displayed is her face her legacy enhancing spirit in this space. The other a woman unbothered, unapologetic about her way of life, gathered her food from land, and medicines too, regardless of their perceptions put on her as a white man's wife. The beauty of her content shone through.
Our heroes fought in many different ways, some the exact epitome of a warrior, like Pemulway. Another warrior incensed, Gladys Tybingoompa, believed in the idea of reconciliation and fought with education reiterating our sharpest weapon for following generations, for me to step in. Celebrating our heroes as we should celebrating our heroes as we would.
[Poem ends]

Ethan: Anyone notice we’ve got matching shirts? We didn’t plan that.

I don't have a title for this poem, but I wanted to focus on ‘Voice’ for NAIDOC.

[spoken word poem by Ethan]
Everyone has a voice. No one to speak or put your hand up.
Every voice has a time, every voice but mine.
My teacher used to tell me every voice would shine, but it's hard to hear a question at the back of the line.
The voice that speaks the loudest is the voice that gets heard.
It’s not the choice or intent is the volume of the word. And we’re shouting.
Shouting to reach our last breath when we reach our final breaths it’s like no one’s even heard us yet. Are you nervous yet?
You don't know how powerful the word can get. The Earth had slept until we woke it up took its breath, now it’s choking up. Didn't respect this land.  So when I finish you haven't heard enough.
We haven't spoken up.
'Cause now some time to speak we pictured the summit, but we’re nowhere near the peak 'cause you got to say the reality we envision, so which way when our people talk we need to listen.
All of us. Because now we’re too scared to speak about our sovereignty. Only put us in the picture as a novelty. Only there 'cause we gotta be.
So you seems to have some modesty, better speak about us honestly.
But in the end, no one needs to speak for us, the don’t need to weep for us, clear the streets for us.
Just give us a mic and the opportunity to express, give strength to our unity and we’ll do the rest.
Do what we do best and that’s passing on knowledge. Like a river flows, stars glow and blood bleeds. The kind of stuff you can't learn in college or uni. It's unique.
The type of thought that plants seeds, it’s time listen to the grandparents this world needs. Like we forgot our responsibility. Forgot our ability and strength to work together, it worked for 60,000 years you think it’d work forever.
If our words are clever, we'll find our time.
And not for a place in line, but for peace of mind. So peace to mine.
[poem ends]

Thank you.

All right.

Loki: This song I’m going to perform for you guys is called Phoenix. And it was inspired by a dream that I had when I was 19. So I was raised outside of my culture, and it was a dream I had where I was visited by my ancestors and they sung into me in this dream, and they sung into me a Phoenix. And the job for this Phoenix was meant to be, to help be my guide to reconnect to my culture and since then. I've been on a journey of doing that and that's what this song is about.

[song by Loki]
Oh I just follow my phoenix
I said I just follow my burning bird.
Oh my chest on fire
My infernal guide, for the good
She got blown in on the wild wings of a dream
Cleaved from eth lungs of the souls of all those who live on in my blood
They passed it on to the young kind
Passed it on to the new kid
Th blood line pulsed and carried on
Oh I just follow my phoenix
I said I just follow my burning bird.
Oh my chest on fire
My infernal guide, for the good
Follow, follow
Follow follow follow my phoenix
Follow, follow
Follow follow follow my phoenix
[fast singing – no transcript available]
Oh I just follow my phoenix
I said I just follow my burning bird.
[Song ends]

Thank you very much

This poem is my response to treaty and voice.

[Poem by Loki]
This land. Is my elder
Although I’ve spent generations and generations away from my country in the Kimberley, it's hand still guides me.
Its finger stretches at and the branches and in the leaves. Sheltering me as I walk slowly by the waters of Currumbin Creek.
Its finger outstretches in the spray of stars as I walk alone beneath the Midnight Beach from Tugun’s Flat Rock to the cusp of the alley by mind blending in the estuary where the old voices whisper in the waves, like pages unfolding on the shore, shooting sheets of the oldest story opening itself before me if I only care to listen.
If I only care to read.
If I only care to retrace the passages in my blood back to the cursive lines of the Kimberley, where waves of stone mount over me and secrets dance around ancient fires while great, great grandparents sit around in perfect silence, and look at me, as if it were nothing through the long glass of time. Painting my mind with memories of my bloodline.
Patterns of eucalypt that link behind my eyes and open them to the moonlight shimmering on the beach, as I open them to dew glowing white upon the leaves and suddenly I know that my country is all around. That I am the estuary where the River meets the sea in that even though in my family was stolen over generations and crammed into seething cities, that my ancestors do still see me.
And I can be a grandson, who carries on the dreaming. And even though I have lived without my Elders around me, without their hands to guide me, and teach me, to paint me, to soothe me with their lines like rivers in their hands of shelter, this land itself has been my Elder.
Its hands rub sticks upon my heart beat to keep the ember inside of me smouldering, to keep my soul searching in my spirit, hoping for the culture that used to hold me.
And I will cross the empty desert of this dark time to reconnect to my bloodline, so that my kids do not have to spend their whole lives walking blind, trying to re-find the ancient light that is their birthright and that is why I wade up to the estuary. And pray into the high wide night for the treaty to be signed.
So that our culture can be kept alive and never again be as hard as it has been for this lost blood to find. So that we can look into each other’s eyes and reside as families in the hands of elder.
In the hands of this land.
Thank you.

[backing track commences for Ethan’s rap]

Ethan: Yeah – get real hyped up for this one. [audience laughter]

Uh yeah, yeah from the outside in, from the outside in, just looking from the outside in, still looking from the outside in.
Never doubt my pain when the situation is critical. I'm stuck up in the middle, just another individual.
Everybody's typical, trying to find the right place in my page. My state of mind is not defined by my face or my skin.
When I call you my kin, caramel like mine wasn't really to your liking.
and I said when I say I wanna live the right way because every bright day you always endin’ up in night’s shade
What’s this calamity, my family would know what's up, my fathers [unknown] and mothers give me shoulder rubs
On the [unknown] of growing up an always give me confidence but knowing who I am just isn’t in my common sense.
Damn, and I know it shouldn’t be like this
And if you don’t believe me you can read my lips and see this shit for what it really is or really ain’t.
All the same drill into my brain til it penetrates
Yeah from the outside in, uh from the outside in, you keep drillin’ from the outside in, and now I’m still looking from the outside in.
Uh from the outside in, I take my L’s and count my wins. I’m just looking from the outside in, still looking from the outside in.
Now before I get ahead of myself, all I want is recognition still it’s better than wealth, I wonder why I feel conflicted by the hand I was dealt because I know I feel the privilege, but I don’t know myself.
My identity is meant to be my centrepiece eventually the best of me just to fulfil his destiny, maybe it’s the recipe part  that I was missing, I hoped that you would listen, I am not the victim, it’s times like this I would lay back and reminisce when I was a kid wish my skin was blacker than this
That’s the shit that can’t be missed, I don’t know who started this, lying to my own culture really was the hardest shit. I want you to love me, wanted you to keep me close and never leave so why do I feel like I’m your enemy
It doesn’t matter when the other side forgets you, it hurts more when your people don’t accept you.
Yeah from the outside in, uh from the outside in, like it or not yeah, you’re still my kin, so why am I still looking from the outside in?
[end of song]

Joella: This second piece really speaks for itself, but it's called ‘Unapologetic’.

[spoken word poem by Joella]
Now it isn't a crime to be black because I'm black and never seen the inside the cell, but it is a crime to be proud of that

Don't tell me this is a fact. It’s okay for me to walk down the street and enter a store wearing smile. But when my clothing stands for something more, a flag of representation, nobody wants to be within a mile of me. Because for some reason when society sees someone embracing their heritage. It means they're discouraging yours. They don't see someone showing their pride they see flaws. They see nasty comments, incorrect stereotypes and the chance to belittle but that’s what has me riddled.

How have we come, so far, but still not far enough in so long? See, I'm surrounded by young minds of my generation that will carry that trait for having no fear of expression.

But most of those don't see past the colour of my skin working a 9 to 5 and therefore refused to let in what could be the change to our oppression. I hear more times than I should that we can't move on and we are still living in the past. So let me do that honour of attempting to show you all how generation Y grew up still affected by all this past robust. I come from a mainstream high school in a small town of Central Queensland. Don't be fooled. I was born and raised in an urban area. Yes, and for that I am blessed. I even attended an advanced class and no, my Aboriginality did not get me a free pass.

Free passes like toilet passes are what people seem to think we are given, if our culture gave us any privileges to life like a toilet pass I your second last period on a Thursday afternoon, I wouldn’t be reciting my words today in this form to try and get through to you.

So let's be clear, all aboriginal people did not receive benefits on benefits in the palm of our hand. We are put through rings and circles to get anywhere in today's society which is what makes it so difficult to forget about those who declared the land. I'll grow up finding it extremely hard to connect with the Aboriginal side of my veins, I’ll suffer in 2019 at 26 years of age because of the traumatic past and culture lost, of watching my grandfather be told his parents correct names years later. Don’t sigh in grief for me, I have accepted that long ago be open to accepting the ideas that we are not a violent people, a hurtful people. But people who just want what those before us wanted, acknowledgement, respect, recognition and our land back wouldn’t hurt either, but who knows…

As for ignorance, education is key, put Australia’s true culture and history in the curriculum and you'll see for yourself. We need to break this cycle of never-ending students growing up with their mind a rifle locked, aimed and ready to shoot in order to defend their pride in being Aussie without realizing what that is.

To live in a country so multicultural is a gift, but in order to move forward at all, all must be understanding of others rightful laws. I look at my friends and then I look at me, I'm usually always the darkest you see, but what gets under my dark complex skin is when my friends of lighter complexion don't receive the same thing as I do way out in public or just meeting people for the first time if there was a question in the air about Indigenous anything, you can bet a dime it’s coming to me. Because they look at me and see culture and pride, but they look at my friends and see otherwise for some reason. And that's what is wrong with society’s views today of Indigenous people. Because I was raised to know when it comes to black people, our pride and knowledge is not defined by the colour of our skin, but rather that within is where the truth lies. Break our skin and watch us all bleed the same blood.

Watch your thoughts and idealizations accustom with black people being lighter or darker flood the room from wall to wall. Watch your realisations change when you come to view our perspectives, which reminder eyes. The tone of your skin has no part in determining how much of indigenous person you are, for my own friends of light lighter skin have a greater understanding of their dances songs with history, then I do by far. My dark skin does not give me a toilet pass to my heritage, my dark skin is a complexion due to my ancestors and it is not something I regret. But something I wish people could forget on occasions, just like my light-skinned friends, who suffer the issues of our society being uneducated to understand, my dark skin works exactly like the stain of a stamp. A stamp I walk around in every single day a stamp that has me labelled as one of them without me having anything to say.

My stamp comes with a cost, just like the ones in the shop, a cost of accepting that some people won’t see me before they see my skin. The cost of understanding that on a public ride people would rather stand than occupy the seat to my right. I pay the price of my impression every day when I walk down the street and start to pull away from the people in front of me because I see that they are scared. And this whole time, I thought this was the caring thing to do, do not startle them, so used to this, I couldn't even see things through. As if my dark skin is a weapon is how it feels some days that people see it as something I can use to intimidate them and others around me. Constantly thinking to myself, if only they knew the real me.

But that is the price of my stamp, my skin, my tone, everything. People will never see on 1st impression what is beneath. So next time you think that the past, is quite literally in the past, racism is dead, and we don’t suffer anymore. Think about me walking the opposite footpath, not have to witness people watch their backs on I'm walking behind them instead or think about me walking to my corner shop and hearing people’s doors lock as I pass their car. Don't being misguided by my rhyming ways, these are real events, real experiences, my experiences. So don't try and tell me another affected by Australia’s history because physically might be integrated, but mentally, we are segregated.

And, yes, it has faded into the depths of polluted air but we just need to care enough to think of ways around this cycle that they tell us cannot be broken. Be outspoken, loud and proud, you hear us scream, dare to dream of a better world and you might be looked down upon because of the size of your vision, but don't let that discourage you or your precision because, although generation Y might still have issues due to our past. We will keep persevering, and this too shall pass. Be inspired, be proud and remember who you are. Do not let anyone tarnish your spirit or belittle you for it is who you come from who gives you your strength to do.

My favourite thing I have ever put on paper is something I like to remember each day. When I'm feeling away, down, disconnected because our world still fails me at times, so I like to remember my following rhyme.

From the darkness of my skin, to the size of my thighs. From the fullness of my lips, to how my cheekbones rise. Ashamed, I will not be at my pride. I will not hide for I am living proof that my ancestors survived.

Thank you.

Nadia: Hello again, I'm going to sing a song called Boogie Man.

[song begins]
Incomplete of ceremonies.
Broken traditions lead to lost families.
Untold of Australia’s dark history, an ignorant society of our spirituality.
Tools and weapons taken from its true country, just to be used for that thing you call money.
We want it back, back to that beautiful land, so there’s nothing for that boogie man
Nothing for him, nothing for him.
We want it back, back to that beautiful land, so there’s nothing for that boogie man
Nothing for him, nothing for him.
Politicians saying sorry, but still we grieve every time you celebrate your white history
They’re still holding a part of me, I wish we could go back to perfect harmony
Oohh, oohhh
We want it back, to that, beautiful, land
So there’s nothing for that boogie, boogie man
We want it back, so there’s nothing for that boogie man
Nothing for him, nothing for him.
We want it back, back to the beautiful land, so there’s nothing for that boogie man
Nothing for him, nothing for him.
We got to let you know, our cultures gonna stay strong
Thea artefacts that you stole won’t belong
You know that it was always wrong
Tryin’ to find out where I’m coming from, hearing my ancestors sing their song
We want it back, back to that beautiful land, so there’s nothing for that boogie man
Nothing for him, nothing for him.
We want it back, back to that beautiful land, so there’s nothing for that boogie man
Nothing for him, nothing for him.
Ooh, ooh, we want it back, back
So there’s nothing for him.
[song ends]

Ethan: This is our duo poem in response to ‘Treaty.’

[spoken word poem by Ethan and Joella]
Yothu Yindi sang Treaty, put my worth on paper
Price tag of black colours like smoke and vapor, talk about it later.
Keep it in the air til it fades a-way, and we don't have much to say, the conversations misty morning dew. But the truth is grisly.
Wonder why my eyes are shifty, but don't waste time to criticize, we want to be legitimized.
Chiselled in stone so our culture is solidified
Like on the earth we stand, we rise to be recognized
Imprint with ink print and optimism multiplies
I use my voice to speak my truth and the world stops
Nations upon nations begin to rock
In embrace feel my spirit fill this place.
This is 60,000 years in your face.
The time is now.
Today, not tomorrow.
We refuse to settle in the stories of our current situation.
We have people of diverse nations, congregations be seen.
Before colonisation, moved and sliced by Migaloo segregation
And then we were born. Incoming generations.
The present is meaningless with only immediate revelations.
Depositing victories for our peoples that you read like a bank statement titled ‘reparations’
We don’t want to be recognised now, but for generations and generations.
Far beyond what our eyes can see, and I hope whoever looks back will smile like me
Our ancestors say ‘walk tall, walk strong, walk together and so on.
But walk together has become a replacement of our genuine recognition that still fails us today Change the date. Close the gap. Deaths in custody.  And rising numbers of suicide.
But I'm here.
Bloodlines as thick as my pride, as thick as these streets filled with Murri magic at NAIDOC time
Year after year we show out in collective to celebrate our existence.
Put our experiences on the back pedal to catch a breath and smile freely to be a part of something so unique.
Not everyone can say that they come from one of the longest lineages in history, like we.
Continue a future to a history which is ancient. I know we can make it. I know we’ve been patient.
I know what we're facing is intimidating but even more being stared down, our eyes are elevating, our souls regenerating to persevere.
Even in our lowest points we don't work with fear, because we're afraid and we're angry.
Angry at the system. But we fight through frustration and answer with wisdom.
Intergenerational lines generate our intergenerational wise
Speaks to us through sleep at night, strips us of westernised fights, and refuels our systems with the same energies of our old people.
Varied but everlasting are our identities. Our people are enigmatic, they react with compassion. They want a violent reaction, don’t give them the satisfaction.
Don't fit their description, our people are wise, beautiful and black.
Think about how our elders would react.
My great grandmother taken, she lived in shame and explained to my grandfather the fear she wrestled with daily.
Compromised her language and culture in a competition of safety and still, she made me.
Sustained my future in her bravery, like these words that I speak in articulating a forest of future successes for all of the ‘me’s.
What would Aunty say? Nanna do? Grandad too? You can pick and choose.
A wealth of knowledge that is never lost, never let it go at any cost, and keep it close by any means. New treaty is what it seems, so pass on knowledge and reality, and your dreams
Shush the myths in today's time in faith that our time is coming. We will win.
We've been held back, given false starts, been disqualified.
But ironically, our race is just about to begin.
[poem ends – extended applause]

Leighton: How great are these guys?

Well, yeah, I'm not going to say much we've got a few minutes before the end, so actually got some time for a few questions, so I’d just like to open the floor to any questions, you might have.

Alethea Beetson: Hi my name is Alethea Beetson, I’m a Kabi and Wiradjuri woman, I’m artistic director of Digi Youth Arts. I said to them earlier I'm very tired and I was like, I think I'm too fragile to watch you do this today. I think I cried about 100 times, but I just want to remind everyone here that Indigenous young people are so incredibly important, despite what this country consistently tries to tell them with their collective actions, words and silence.

They are some of our most important people because they're the youngest generation of one of the oldest surviving and thriving cultures in the world and I just want to acknowledge all the Indigenous people who have worked inside this establishment, outside this establishment and against this establishment, so that something that was illegal only about 45 something years ago, just happened and I'm just so very proud of them so please ask them questions while you have them, they're wonderful.

Audience member: G’day that was amazing. Thank you so much for sharing all of your songs and poems and music with us today. It just seems like you guys have been together for ages and I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about how you guys came together as a foursome?

Loki: It was a long, long time ago. We actually, well, we're all part of Digi Youth Arts for different, for doing different things. Nadia and I are in the Ancient Bloods, and you’ve [Joella] been in Digi Youth Arts for a year?

And Ethan, how long have you been in Digi Youth Arts? Here and there? He’s been here and there. But we had, we had our first and only rehearsal on Sunday. And it was the first time that we’d all got together, so that was the world premiere for you.

Have we got some questions? Questions, questions, questions?

Audience member: Thank you so much. What's the best reaction you’ve ever had to your stories?

Nadia: We were lucky enough to be able to perform at the Mabo oration a few weeks ago and I had the Mabo family come and thank me personally for the performance and Indigenous X asked us to write an article for them. So there's lots of I guess exposure and networking, so great to have this opportunity to be part of DYA and be in Ancient Bloods and get amongst it so, yeah, best thing.

Loki: Yeah, and that time, I think it's Brett Levee, he asked if we wanted to be in Star Wars, which was pretty wild. Still not sure if that’s happening.

Audience member: Loki, you talked about being right outside of your culture? How does being part of a group like DYA help you get connection back?

Loki: It's been really important for me and I want to thank Alethea for that, without making her cry any more. But it's been really important to me. Yeah, I kind of was born in Perth and moved around from Newcastle to Sydney into rural places on my life, like 8 different schools in over 60 different houses and everything like that. So even if I tried while young to connect wherever I was, I was always moving around so I never had a grounded space. So being, even though I'm based in the Gold Coast and coming up to Brisbane all the time now, being involved in Digi Youth Arts has already just opened up so many passageways of connection to me and just help facilitate a real sense of belonging.

To be working with other Indigenous youth is really inspiring for me and even the connections through what's happened with Digi Youth Arts already connected through the poetry thing, recently, where I met a woman who runs like a First Nations poetry kind of project, who is going to send me to the Kimberleys , where I’ve never been, to reconnect my culture up there and learn some language and do some poetry workshops and stuff.

You know my heart almost broke with excitement because of that, which is so meaningful for me, and that's really because I started working with Digi Youth Arts really, and that’s been pivotal to me. Does anyone else.. oh that question was really just for me.

Audience member: So I have a question for you guys.

Thank you so much for the generosity today, those words, the way that you have performed them. I know it wasn't just an act, and you were speaking to us directly.


You're sitting in a room full of public servants, decision makers, people who are creating policy and practice in government, that serve our people. What would be your message to them, as young people as young aboriginal people? What would be your message to these bureaucrats and decision makers about the most the next most powerful step that they could take to ensure that Aboriginal voices, Torres Strait Island voices, that the ancient voices on which they participate and work with, how those voices could be part of their work into the future? What's your message to them?

Ethan: Um. Yeah, I guess just a lot of things like this, you know, is we just wanna be head and in the conversation and I think that through our poetry, music. That that's the easiest way for us to get the things we want to say in her message out there. So yeah, I guess just supporting us in making sure we’re heard as well. And Yeah. This kind of stuff.

Joella: It's a really good question on trying to keep my answer short. I think design of what Ethan said, Yeah, about listening to Indigenous voices and Indigenous people being in the conversation from the start as an initial kind of thing. There's always the saying you know, nothing about us without us, but I always like to reiterate to people about bringing First Nations’ voices from the start of the conversations. Because that’s really important also about self-determination and self-empowerment for our people as well. We can do that leads towards that is good

Loki: Nadia, did you want to say something?

Nadia: I think a huge, huge thing is education and the curriculum. Um, I know like I lived overseas for 5 years and studied British curriculum and then coming to back to Australian doing Australian curriculum and the things that I was told sometimes in history class,  then having to put my hand up, you know, and correct the teacher, you know it's, it's really sad and it's quite overwhelming.

And I think definitely just starting with education in schools because that's, you know, so important, and it's not just for Indigenous people. Everyone in general, you know, cultural awareness. You know like we don't have the opportunity to travel as much 'cause we're here in Australia down here, and everywhere is so far away, so we don't have as much cultural awareness. I think and I think really understanding and learning about other people's culture and the history and the truth, so important. And I think that would really, really be a huge turning point and change things. Everyone in you know, people would understand and that being there would have been so much tension with these conversations and people wouldn't be afraid to speak their mind. Thanks.

Loki: Yeah, you took the words out of my moth, I was going to say education as well. So you know, I just reiterate that having it integrated properly into the curriculum like to be treated solidly as a valid and valuable subject, as essential is English or science.

You know an understanding of our environment and our environment includes the culture that's been here for so long, and I think an integrated education system with Indigenous cultural education can also lead to re-connection, and facilities for people like myself who was growing up, we wanted to reconnect but didn’t have any means or even people to talk to. I mean ask the English teacher, have you ever heard of the Djaberadjabera people. Nope. Okay…sweet.

And what else on top of the education. Um. Yeah, a treaty would be good, that’d be nice. I think that is really long overdue and is basically just like a first step 1000 steps later, than it should be. I mean there’s treaties in so many other countries between the Indigenous peoples and the governments just to the acknowledgement of Indigenous culture is like people in a nation have been here for such a long time.

Yeah, that would be the start of a lot more work that needs to be done. I think so. Yeah.

Nadia: I also think ,sorry, with education uh. I think a lot of it is also not just having one view and one stand point being taught from different perspectives, being taught different peoples perspectives and various sources because we seem to get one perspective on 2 perspectives, maybe but We're not actually given the whole picture where only given a few things, pieces to the puzzle. So how do we see that whole thing with only a few of those pieces?

Joella: Well. Sorry. Sorry just quickly also don't underestimate the power of small acts as well. Lile Alethea, you, said before you know the stuff that we're doing today was illegal not that many years ago, so even us being here today is a very powerful thing and very good step towards the uprising of our people. So yeah, just don't underestimate the small, small acts of empowerment as well, because they're very important. And they definitely make a difference.

Loki: Yeah, and that's it anything on the education level. If everyone takes the time to educate themselves a little about the culture around them wherever it is. It just lifts the cultural knowledge in general throughout Australia, if every single person who can just learns a little bit of takes time to connect with some of the local mob in their areas makes a big difference.

Audience member: I just want to say thank you for coming to our department, I’m really thankful that my son came today.  He's 11, they don’t really teach this at his school. Touch base maybe but not the extent we saw today. But thank you for your kind words and giving him some wisdom and I hope we can get there in the end.

Leighton: Thank you. Well. These guys have got a lot to say you might have noticed. That's really good to see everyone listening and asking but you know it's. And Alethea, my apologies, my notes told me I had to introduce you to come up. But I was just so blown away, by what I'd seen earlier that I completely forgot that.

You know… to stand up here today. I'm a B grade musician and performer in my spare time and you know this is a corporate gig. This is tough. To come up here and stand up here and say those things, they’re the real deal. That's from the heart and it's so inspiring so thank you all, that was really amazing. It's being great to have you share with us today and if you could all join me…  Everyone have a great NAIDOC week… and let's just think these guys again.

Stay tuned for our next Speakers series event.


Department of Premier and Cabinet
(07) 3003 9288
OrgCulture [at] premiers.qld.gov.au

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