Dion Devow was Indigenous X host from September 27 to October 4, 2013.
Five questions to Dion
I currently work at the Australian National University in the Tjabal Indigenous higher education centre and undertake recruitment and community engagement for the Australian National University. I am also the deputy chair of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Group, which is a ministerial appointed group that advises both the local and federal ministers for education on the needs of Indigenous Australians within the ACT.
I am also the owner of Darkies Design, which is an Australian clothing label for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I started the business because I had a concept about creating an Indigenous clothing line and was encouraged by family and close friends to go for it. I wanted to be able to wear fashionable clothes that expressed how proud I am of being an Indigenous Australian. My use of the word “darkies” is deliberate, in that I want to reclaim the word – hence the slogan “Darkies Design – reclaiming the name!” Why should the word still be seen as negative or derogatory in contemporary Indigenous society, especially when we as a people were not responsible for the derogatory or negative use of the word? I am very proud of the colour of my skin and so are all of the Indigenous people I know, no matter how light or dark they are.
My mother Lyn Devow also inspires me. She went from cleaning the toilets at the primary school I attended to attaining a masters in education, and until recently was lecturing at James Cook University in Townsville QLD. She is still today seen as an expert within the teaching field and Indigenous education after dedicating more than 30 years of her life to it. At the young age of 68 she has gone back to the classroom, and is teaching Indigenous children from remote Queensland and Northern Territory communities at Shalom College in Townsville.
My other role model is my oldest and closest childhood friend Nova Peris, who not only encouraged me to start the Darkies Design business but one day said to me, “Dion, don’t dream your dreams … Live them!”