Ipswich’s Tash Budda-Dean, 24, stands on solid ancient ground,
certain of her future for the first time in her life.
Her story is not uncommon among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who didn’t grow up with their tribe.
“I was raised by my non-indigenous mother and I have struggled with my identity over the years,” Ms Budda-Dean said.
“When I became a teenager I reached out to the local indigenous community and made ties with the Aboriginal people and found the missing part of me.”
Ms Budda-Dean is a descendant of the Kamilaroi people of Moree.
“Since I have a better understanding of myself, I have made strong connections with my dad’s family and have embraced my culture and heritage fully,” Ms Budda-Dean said.
Ms Budda-Dean learned bits about her culture from her dad, but she has also discovered that no matter which community she lives in, the indigenous population has a deep understanding of each other.
“It’s so easy to get along with other Aboriginal people because they have been though the same things as you,” Ms Budda-Dean said.
“I have a lot of strong female indigenous role models. A lot of aunties I look up to for inspiration and guidance.
“I don’t have much family here in Ipswich so if I want to go and see family I pop into Liworaji Aboriginal Corporation. They don’t just look after the indigenous community but anyone in the community.”
Ms Budda-Dean has been in the Air Force since 2015 and is currently based at RAAF Base Amberley.
“My colleagues are really accepting to what I have to say and I have the opportunity here to share my culture and identity. I am really looking forward to NAIDOC day this year,” she said.
“There will be storytelling and dances on base. The Air Force has given me the opportunity to do a lot of community engagement also.”
Ms Budda-Dean is part of a new generation of Australians who understand more and she wants to share her knowledge and story.
“I hate the word racism, I find it’s mostly just a lack of education, people don’t understand how offensive they are being,” she said.
“People come out with silly comments and as a young girl I would get upset. Now that I am older and more educated I am able to handle the comments in a more mature way. I will generally try and explain why something that was said is insensitive and 99 per cent of people take it well.
“These events like Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week are good avenues for people who don’t understand our culture. It gives good opportunities to come in and be around aboriginal people and get educated.”
Arts and Community Development Committee chairperson Cr Kylie Stoneman said Ipswich City Council was again proud to support NAIDOC week celebrations and encouraged the wider community to attend.
“The Neville Bonner Sporting Complex at Briggs Road will be the venue for the local community to come together on Thursday July 12 between 10am and 2pm,” Cr Stoneman said.
“The program will feature children’s rides, information stalls, food and entertainment.
“This year’s entertainment line-up includes Glenn Skuthorpe and Sue Ray.
“Glenn has performed at Woodford, Byron Bay Blues Fest and Edmonton Folk Festivals while Sue has released three critically acclaimed albums.”
Cr Stoneman also thanked major sponsors Kambu Health Service and Lendlease Communities for their support.