Educational Experience is proud to work in partnership with a variety of passionate and devoted individuals that identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.  We believe that in strengthening these relationships, we have a true, authentic and meaningful understanding of Aboriginal perspectives .

In 2017 Educational Experience announced exclusive sponsorship of the two Indigenous Australian participants of the Global Leaders Forum.  Jackie Bennet, one of the participants, is a Kamilaroi/Bigambul woman from St George in South West Queensland. We recently caught up with Jackie to have a yarn and learn more about her life on country.

 

What was your life like in Australia growing up?

I am the eldest of three children, I lived with my Father who was a Shearer and my Mother who was a cleaner at local hotels and my sister and brother. My father was one of 8 children so I had a lot of cousins, we spent a lot of our time together going to the river to swim, playing and exploring the bush, river banks, or we could be found at Glen Graham’s tree. If we weren’t at the river we would be at the irrigation channel near our house trying to catch yabbies’ with a piece of cotton and a bit of red meat or maybe, we could be found at the local swimming pool. Another favourite past time growing up for me and my brother and sister was riding our 80 Yamaha motorbike, we would spend hours and hours exploring the bush around St George with each other and our friends. We would all meet on the banks of the Balonne River, we would ride, swim and ride again. We did not stop, we were never home but we knew that we had to be home before dark, if we weren’t would be in trouble. We were outside children and loved nothing more to be outside on Country.

 

What are some of your most vivid memories or stories you can recall?

One of the most vivid memories that I recall is of going to one of my favourite places, the Rapids. As a child I would go to the river almost daily with my cousins and friends. I loved the smells of the muddy water and the scent of the Tea Trees that lined the river bank along the length of the Rapids. The Rapids were a section of the river where the river bed had a relatively steep slope that caused an increase in the water speed and lots of turbulence. The Rapids were between a run of smooth flowing part of a stream and a rapid, cascade which rushed at a noisy speed over a rocks below the Jack Taylor Weir. There would be kids running around everywhere laughing, joking and having a good time waiting to take our turn to ride down the Rapids. We would either be on an old inflated car or a truck tube, if we didn’t have one of those we would have be brave and go down with nothing. We would position ourselves so that our bodies would be swept down the loud roaring stream and we would be pushed along with the rushing water. Many of us would end up with bruises on our legs or arms from being slammed into the rocks as we were being swept down the river at a very fast speed. It was always a good feeling to get to the other end without an injury.

 

Did you always intend to get into the Early Childhood Education sector?

I always wanted to be a PE Teacher but I didn’t get to do that. I have worked for approximately 20 years in schools starting with Kindergartens up to year 10 as a Teacher Aide and also as Canteen Manageress. I have worked as a casual assistant and cook in a long day-care centre. I worked at a large school with 880 students with 220 of those being Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander students as an Indigenous Education Worker. It wasn’t until I started working with C&K 3 years ago that I got to get a true understanding of the importance of Early Childhood Education. Don’t get me wrong I have always been passionate about promoting the importance of education to parents and families about the importance of education but it is now that I am totally enjoying this Early Childhood space. I can truly see that there is real potential for Reconciliation to occur in this space especially if we all work together to embed it in our everyday business in the services that we work in.

 

Keep an eye out for the second part of this interview as we delve into the some of the harder hitting questions with Jackie.