Carly Wallace was Indigenous X host from March 11 to March 18.
Five questions to Carly Wallace
My Aboriginal name Burruburru was given to me by my aunty and chosen especially for me by my late mother. Burruburru is the water gum tree, a tree that lines most fresh water creeks where I am from on the Atherton Tablelands and surrounding areas. The water gum tree is a communicating tree, when it’s yellow and white flowers bloom and fall in the the rivers and streams, it sends us a message that we are now allowed to eat what is in the creeks and rivers. If the tree isn’t in bloom and we go and eat what’s in the water, then we risk over fishing. The tree is our signal, it communicates with us and tells us when we are allowed to take from mother nature. Burruburru is also a healing tree and has healing capabilities for our people. My Aboriginal name was picked for me because I’m a communicator, just like the tree.
The tree is our signal, it communicates with us and tells us when we are allowed to take from mother nature.
I have worked in the media industry since I was 19 years old, mainly in radio and now in television, communicating and telling the stories of our people on NITV (National Indigenous Television). My Aboriginal name is a big part of who I am, it is my womanhood and connection to my family and country, no matter how far I may roam.
My family is a close nit family, I was lucky enough to grow up on my traditional country with my immediate family and with the majority of my cousins, aunts and uncles. We are rainforest people, Dulguburra Yidinji people, descendants of my great grandparents Jack and Nelly Stewart from the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. My great grandparents were strong traditional people who knew their lore and who made great sacrifices for our family, in a time when life wasn’t easy for Aboriginal people, so that we could live the lives we live today. Their sacrifices are my strength and I am thankful beyond means for their foresight which has seen the preservation of a lot of our family’s history, culture and belonging.
Above anything else, I am a Dulguburra Yidinji woman, but I am also a story teller. I am grateful every day to be able to tell positive stories about the great things our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do in the community of Brisbane and Queensland with stories I present on the entertainment program Around The Traps on NITV. It’s a job that constantly surprises me and I love it because I get to witness first hand the enormous talent of our people. To be able to share these stories on a national level through our Indigenous broadcaster is an absolute honour.
On top of my job as a TV presenter on NITV, I also work with Indigenous high school students as a program assistant and presenter with the national company AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) in Queensland. Working with our Indigenous youth is a passion of mine, I get to travel as far as the Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton and all over Brisbane, delivering the message to our youth and community that Indigenous=Success.
I am able to share my story and hopefully inspire and guide our youth to the successful futures they deserve.
Our Indigenous youth aren’t finishing high school at the same rate as their non-Indigenous peers, our youth have self esteem issues, self confidence issues and more often than not, they slip through the cracks in our education system. My journey through high school wasn’t easy but I feel I have gone on and had a successful career so far and working with AIME and our students, I am able to share my story and hopefully inspire and guide our youth to the successful futures they deserve. The feeling I get after running a session day with students alongside my AIME colleagues is like nothing else, it’s inspiring to me when I meet these students and work with them, I feel nothing but pride and admiration for them.
Last but not least, I am the guardian of my 17-year-old brother. This role is probably the most important one I lead in my life everyday. After our mum passed away suddenly in late 2010, I stepped away from my radio career in Sydney and moved back home to North Queensland to start raising my little brother as a single guardian. He was 13 at the time. For the past five years, I have dealt with a lot of depression after losing my mother, battled with the loss of the strongest woman I have ever known, the pressures of raising a child in my mid 20s and walking away from the only career I have known.
Five years on, we have moved to Brisbane, away from our family in order for me to start working again and so my brother would have more opportunity. My brother is in his senior year at school, he has been selected as his school’s Indigenous leader this year and has just started his school-based traineeship in construction. He is a normal teenager with normal teenage issues, but what he and I have had to overcome together in the past five years has taught me resilience and made me a better person over all. My journey in life is constantly changing but I am just grateful to be in this moment, right here, right now.
My dad is also my role model, he has taught me practical things in life and given me support as a father in the best way he could over the years.
My siblings and cousins, both younger and older than me, are also role models to me, we support each other and are there for each other and I am proud of everything they do. They continually push me to be a better version of myself.
I know, as Indigenous people, we are capable of so much and I personally have high expectations of our people because that’s what my great grandparents Jack and Nelly have handed down to me and members of our family. Having expectations of ourselves, our family, our futures and our culture is the first step to making change as individuals.
I am blessed to be able to combine my two passions in life: working in media and with Indigenous youth. I hope to continue to tell the stories of our people to show wider Australia and the world everything we have to offer, and I hope to see our youth go on to lead in their communities in the near future and become role models for their families and our people.