“I know that my children won’t have to be stuck in a cycle of disadvantage or go through the same experiences that I, my Mum, or my Grandparents did. I am proud to be the one to break the cycle.” – Kodie
I’m Kodie, on the left, a proud Dharawal woman from the community of La Perouse, where Aboriginal people have lived for thousands of years. My sister Tarli and I were both awarded AIEF Scholarships which allowed us to pursue our educational aspirations and passions.
We grew up on the old La Pa Reserve Mission, and were lucky to be surrounded by five generations of our family, including our great-great-grandmother, who taught us traditional Dharawal cultural practises and language. We are extremely proud to continue to incorporate these into our everyday lives.
We loved growing up surrounded by our community, but with lots of distractions and not much room at home it made it very difficult to have your own space. When Mum told Tarli and me that boarding school was a possibility thanks to AIEF’s Scholarship Program, we knew that it would provide us with the right environment to be able to study and pursue our passions – as well as our own rooms!
When we received news that we would be attending St Vincent’s College, Potts Point on AIEF Scholarships, we were so excited. Going to boarding school meant that we had the space, time and energy to focus on our studies and ambitions for the future. Even though it was difficult to adjust to at first, we knew it would give us access to opportunities we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
In addition to our AIEF Scholarships, it was useful to have access to an AIEF Pathways Advisor to help us with our university applications and provide us with information about different Indigenous programs and university scholarships. They helped us to pursue our interests and navigate our way into university.
I am the first in our family to attend university and recently graduated with a Bachelor of Social Research and Policy from the University of New South Wales, where I am now also teaching Indigenous studies part-time. My sister, Tarli, worked as a Dharawal Language Tutor and is undertaking studies in Psychology. Tarli is hoping to work in mental health and counselling services when she graduates, as she feels that Indigenous people often feel misunderstood by the healthcare system and she wants to become a trusted and familiar face who can help them.
Having done it ourselves, we have always been happy to share our experience with the hopes that it would encourage others to pursue their ambitions and see further education as an option if it interests them. In fact, after seeing our education journey, our Mum was inspired to follow her dreams of becoming a registered nurse, and undertook university studies at the same time as me. I am so proud to say Mum graduated and is now working in community nursing.
Tarli and I are currently working for the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council where we support community governance and local decision making for the Aboriginal community-controlled organisations in La Perouse. Our aim is to help improve outcomes in health, housing and other areas of development in the community.
We have a long history of strong Aboriginal women in our family, with my great-great grandmother running her own business during Sydney’s colonial times – she had a couple of boats, she was running fishing and hunting tours around Botany Bay, having her own business at a time when Aboriginal people were thought to be incapable . It was this entrepreneurial spirit and strong connection to cultural practises which inspired me to set-up my own business, Malima.
Malima facilitates Aboriginal cultural workshops including weaving, bush medicine, spear making and other traditional practises. It is exciting to be able to share our culture with so many different people and to see people getting more involved and wanting to educate themselves on Indigenous culture. I am particularly proud that I have been able to employ members of my family and community, providing them with a source of income and the opportunity to develop skills while maintaining our culture.
These opportunities to create change in our community would not be possible without our education. By supporting organisations like AIEF and providing young Indigenous children with access to quality education you’re not just supporting one child, you’re supporting their family and their broader community.
I know that my children won’t have to be stuck in a cycle of disadvantage or go through the same experiences that I, my Mum, or my Grandparents did. I am proud to be the one to break the cycle.
Our education and the opportunities we have had will not only impact our immediate family, but also the broader community.