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Talk must lead to action

2011 Graduate Jemmason Power gave the following speech at the launch of News Corp Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan in Brisbane on 8 September 2016.

Jemmason entered St Peters Lutheran College in Brisbane on an AIEF Scholarship in Year 11. She is now studying towards a Bachelor of Human Services at the University of Queensland.

First of all, I think anyone who gets up here after Corban – mate, me and Libby were sitting there going “oh my gosh”, eyes were welling up and you did amazing bro. Age has got nothing to do with it, I might be tall but I look up to you and congratulations.

Thank you Paul for the introduction, and thank you for having me here today.

Before I go on, I would like to acknowledge and pay my respect the traditional owners of the land, the Turrbal and Yuggera peoples, and their Elders past and present.

I would also like to acknowledge distinguished guests, including the Premier of Queensland, the Honourable Annastasia Palaszczuk, Chair of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council and Chair of AIEF, Warren Mundine and Executive Chairman of News Corp Australia, Michael Miller.

I am a proud Bindal Birri Gubba woman. I was born in Rockhampton and I moved to Bowen when I was 12.

Growing up, education was always important, as was sport.

I travelled a lot to compete and when I was 15, as said before I met Murray Paterson who works at St Peters Lutheran College and I found out about AIEF Scholarships to St Peters here in Brisbane. My application was successful and I started boarding there in Year 11.

My scholarship supported me to get a great education and moving to Brisbane opened up so many opportunities in netball, but this was something my parents appreciated more than I did at first. As you can hear from all of us young kids we don’t appreciate it until after the fact. I respect your mother so much for letting you do what you did. Parents, especially Indigenous parents, they sacrifice a lot for us, and they know the sacrifice, but they know how much it means and even in five or ten years’ time that we can turn around and say thank you.

I started to realise the value of it when I got to travel to Canberra to be part of the program called Learn, Earn, Legend with AIEF. AIEF provides so many opportunities for you to explore different avenues and pathways. They are just amazing at what they do.

The rest, as they say, is history. I finished Year 12 and I’m now at the University of Queensland, studying my second year of a Bachelor of Human Services.

I was a member of the Queensland Fusion last year before I tore my ACL which some of you may know is quite common in netball – too common – but my goal is still to join the Australian National Netball side which is formally known as the ANZ Championship. And go the Firebirds. As Paul mentioned, I’m an Ambassador for One Netball, a national campaign with the message that netball welcomes everyone, regardless of background or ability. And I also work part time in the boarding house at St Peters. I pretty much went back to boarding after I left – I don’t think I actually left.

Over time, my relationship with AIEF has become one of a “give and give relationship”.

They continue to give by supporting me at uni and providing opportunities, like the opportunity to represent AIEF at the Garma Festival in north-east Arnhem Land in August, and the opportunity to speak to you today.

I give by speaking at events for current scholarship students and by providing feedback that helps AIEF improve its programs for students and graduates like myself. As a boarding mistress at St Peters, I am also a mentor for the Indigenous boarders, including more AIEF Scholarship Students.

And the opportunity to attend Garma this year has had a huge influence on the way I see law and policy and all the things that are written ‘for’ or about Indigenous people.

Specifically, that there’s a big difference between words and deeds.

Conversations are great, they’re great to have but talk must lead to action, and that’s where accountability comes in.

Reconciliation Action Plans like the one News Corp Australia is launching today provide a framework for turning words into action and bringing accountability to the forefront.

My generation and those younger still will be a good measure of accountability and how well plans like this are followed.

I’m living proof that strong and personal partnerships like AIEF’s partnership with News Corp Australia are really important and AIEF would not be able to do what they do without your support.

And it’s not just about how many scholarships AIEF can give in a year or ten years’ time. It’s so much more. As a student and Alumni I can say that the AIEF could not be so humanistic in their approach to caring for each of us without your support.

AIEF is providing scholarships to over 500 students this year and I am just one of the 330 graduates, and on behalf of them I would like to say thank you.

I would like to save the last word for Marcia Langton, who I was privileged to meet at Garma.

We spoke about the challenges my fellow Alumni Frank Lowah and I had – so Frank is another Alumni that graduated at St Peters as well. We both went to Garma this year and it was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. And we talked to Marcia Langton and we discussed the different challenges that we faced getting our education and in short – because there is always so much to take in when you talk to Marcia Langton – she challenged us about what we were going to do to help out younger kids, those who are in schools right now and those still to come. What resilience based tools are we going to give them for when they face social, emotional and political challenges.

And like two students in the field, Frank and I looked at each other and said, that is an excellent question. So watch this space.

Like I said, conversations are great, but talk must lead to action.

Thank you once again for supporting AIEF and congratulations on renewing your commitment to take action and contribute to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

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My education didn’t stop when I finished school, but that’s where it started, and by providing scholarships at some of Australia’s best schools, AIEF is ensuring thousands of Indigenous children get the best start possible.

Warren Mundine AO
Chair, AIEF


The AIEF Scholarship Program and the AIEF Pathways Program are supported by the Australian Government in collaboration with individual, philanthropic and corporate supporters from the private sector.