A message from Justine Brown, Mother of Summer-Sky Dann (St Catherine’s, 2018) and AIEF Scholarship Students, Priscilla, Agnus and Joy.
I am the proud mother to seven beautiful children – five girls and two boys. We’re from the south coast of NSW, from a small remote Aboriginal community called Wreck Bay, located near Jervis Bay. It’s a really beautiful little part of the world. The children also have their bloodline through their father from WA up near Geraldton way, where the desert meets the sea.
One of my life mentors has been Mr John Dyball OAM. He was my Maths teacher at high school growing up and he is still in my life. He has helped me and many other people navigate into this educational arena and supported us to get the best quality education possible.
Sending my children to boarding school has been hard. It makes me emotional, because I work on country and I always miss them, but in our community there’s not the same kind of opportunities.
We’re not a rich family, but we’re rich in our hearts and what we have to offer. I wanted to give my children an opportunity to start networking at an early age, to meet national and international students; sharing, learning and having that cross cultural exchange.
Learning is global; it’s universal. With my children, having the opportunity to participate in this education journey helps them as they become young men and women. They are our future leaders. They come back home to community, or wherever they want to go, and they give their service. It’s what they’ve learned, their skills to help other people, that will change lives.
AIEF has given an opportunity for my family and my children to have these tools in their backpacks, to enter into an adult world and be whatever they want to be.
My oldest daughter, Gemma did five years of military service for the army. Summer, who finished Year 12 on an AIEF Scholarship, is now at university and doing extremely well. That scholarship opportunity and support from AIEF helped her navigate the path to her career in construction and engineering.
My sons are young warrior men. They still do a lot of traditional practices like fishing and diving, helping feed and nourish family, working in the local area.
My youngest three girls are currently on an AIEF Scholarships at St Catherine’s School in Sydney. The range of extracurricular, sporting and educational activities that they get to pick from at school is quite enormous.
They’re all gifted in their sport and they’ve had opportunities to play at that high level in elite teams. Sometimes they battle being homesick, but we have strong support systems in place and boarding really is like a sisterhood or brotherhood.
We’re teaching them to be resilient and independent. The world’s changing really fast, with Covid and everything, and they need to adjust. These young people, my little young people, my babies, these are our trees that we will nourish and water to grow really strong. If you change one kid’s life, you can change a whole family.
From our family to the school family and the AIEF family, all the bodies and people that put funding in and support for the kids, we give you our full cultural respect and gratitude. We want to empower our young people to be better and stronger, and education is empowerment.