Five Questions with Kirstie Parker

In 2014, Twitter Hosts by IndigenousX

Kirsty Parker was Indigenous X host from January 23 to January 30, 2014.

Five questions to Kirsty

I am a Yuwallarai woman from northwest NSW. I’m 46 years old, a daughter, a sister, an aunty and – Aboriginal way – a mother and grandmother. I currently spend my time between Sydney and Lismore in NSW, but “home” is Goodooga in the northwest of the state, where many of my family members live.

I was raised in a safe and loving environment by my Aboriginal mum (herself the oldest of 18 children) and non-Aboriginal dad, both of whom always told me, my sister and two brothers that we could be and do anything we wanted. A generation ago, many of my family were stationhands, shearers, jackaroos and jillaroos, and domestic servants. Today, we have a teacher, a writer, community and youth workers, a police officer, a surveyor amongst our number.

For the past 25 years, I have worked in print and radio journalism, communications, and management of Indigenous organisations. In July this year, I was elected co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, a national representative voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I’m also a director of Reconciliation Australia and a member of the Deadly Awards Executive Academy.

I’m privileged to meet and know many people who strive towards a robust, fair and just Australia. I want to highlight ideas and the work we can all do to address and meet that challenge. This week encompasses 26 January, a day when I personally celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ survival, and a day I believe presents an opportunity for all Australians to acknowledge the nation’s historical truths and collectively dream about a better shared future.

It’ll also be a big week for the Congress, with some public meetings around the country serving as vital rallying points to assure our members and supporters that Congress will survive even if the federal government follows through on plans not to honour a previous budget funding commitment covering the next three years. Congress is owned and operated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. As such, our future is in our own hands. Now, more than ever, we need to build a national unity movement.

There are so many, from our early warriors and resistance fighters to the likes of Aboriginal rights activist Anthony Martin Fernando, American civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks, the 1965 Freedom Riders, everyone who helped to establish the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations, the late Eddie Mabo, and my own mum the late Pam Parker (née Lamb), who went to school for little more than a year but educated herself enough to run two businesses and go to university.

I am inspired by all good, honest, dignified and courageous women and men who won’t wait for others to do what’s right, and who will put self-interest aside and act for the most vulnerable in society. As well as the big issues, I also advocate small but mighty acts of kindness, like asking someone who seems sad, worried or frightened “are you okay?” and listening genuinely to their answer (sometimes people just need someone to hear them). Or, if you see someone copping abuse on a train, moving to sit or stand beside them – silently if that’s all you’re comfortable with – so they know they’re not alone. Often the people who are most generous are those with the least to give.

Achieving justice and respect – in every realm – for our inherent rights as First Peoples. I’m especially passionate about keeping families together and on country; keeping our stories and identity strong; combatting racism; addressing the over-incarceration of our peoples; and ensuring through education and capacity building that we’re in the best possible shape physically, mentally, spiritually and economically to meet the challenges ahead.
I hope for vibrant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and families that are valued and secure, where we celebrate success and diversity in every sphere of life, learn from mistakes, and believe in ourselves. We’re often told – by ourselves and others – that we must choose one way or the other but I believe that we should be able to avail ourselves of every possible and principled means to make our lives better and build stronger, respectful relationships. I dream of a future where our children’s horizons are endless.

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