Jessica Bradshaw: A Mother, A Leader

Jessica Bradshaw is a proud Ngardi and Walpiri woman, a mother of two, and one of Olabud Doogethu's female trailblazers that works with Halls Creek's most at-risk children.

Now, Jessica, a lot of people don’t know thisbut you’ve actually worked for OlabudDoogethu before. Can you introduce yourselfand what you used to do?

Yes, my name is Jessica Bradshaw. I am a Ngardi and Walpiri woman. When I first joined, I was doing the night patrol work to help the kidsgo back home last year. I was doing that work fora couple of months.

Why did you get involved with Olabud Doogethu in the first place?

My biggest thing was that I wanted to do something for the young people. As a child growing up in Halls Creek, we used to have all these youth services – so I wanted to help our community and help our kids to become the future generation.

So you grew up in Halls Creek. Can you tell me what was that like?

Everybody in the community connected – it doesn’t matter where you came from but we’re all family in this one community. But as we get older,and we’ve got our own kids to look after, it’s pretty different to how I used to grow up. Looking at the kids today, made me think of my childhood and how things are so different for them today… but looking at the kids, they’re our future…. I feel like everybody has forgotten about them.

When you were growing up, would you say you were similar to the kids growing up today?

It was different, because we had youth services back in the day. We used to do a lot of things – I learnt how to play basketball and got trained by a youth service worker…. not only that, but I used to play all these different sports like indoor cricket at the hall. It was really fun. Now the kids don’t really have that. I don’t know but the biggest thing for me to join Olabud Doogethu was to help the young people, help them find out who they are and what they’ll become in the future.

Today, you’re a Case Intervention Officer. For people who don’t know what that is, can you tell us what you do?

I work with the girls and working around them and their well-being, in and out of school and home just to see how they are going and if they’re attending school every day, you know? Some days are tough, but some days are good.

 

For you, what’s the biggest challenge with working with the girls?

It’s tough for me because I don’t want to see any of the kids get left behind… I have seven clients. They’re good and kids are kids. As a Mother, I have two boys. Quincy is 17 and Scotty is 12 years old.So being a Mother, when I take care of clients, I can understand the kids. Some kids have probably missed out on a Mother figure, and so me just being there for the other kids is important.Everybody has their own story, but through my job I just want to try to help them through their situations and problems they’re going through.

Now as a Ngardi and Walpiri woman, does this help you with your job, particularly when connecting with people in the communities of Halls Creek?

Yes, I can understand Walpiri and Jaru more butonce you know one language, you can connect with the others easily. I know Jaru, Kija, Kukutja, Walpiri, and Gooniyandi… and English!

How would you describe working with Olabud Doogethu, during your time before and today?

It’s like this one big family, hey. When I first came, I was a bit shy. But that’s not who I am. I felt welcome and I felt like – well, as a woman, you have to lead as well as the men. That’s how I see myself, leading my people.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future of Halls Creek?

It won’t take a day, but it’s going to happen slowly.So we have to start today to build a good future for our future generation. And they can see us as role models – as leaders – who can show them the way. Maybe one day they’ll have my job and takeover. That’s what I hope for. And not only in Halls Creek, but also in Balgo, Billiluna, Ringer Soak and Mulan. I want that for everybody.

Jesse Bradshaw: Family Support

Jesse Bradshaw is a proud Jaru and Bardi man who is a Case Intervention Officer with Olabud Doogethu. He recently sat down for an interview about his work with Family Support Team and the upcoming Mibala program.

Can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Jesse Bradshaw and I’m a Case Intervention Officer. I joined Olabud Doogethu in January this year [2021].

For people who aren’t a part of Olabud Doogethu, can you talk about your role and what you do?

Well, I basically help young boys (aged 10-17) with one-on-one support and whatever they need or what is required from Department of Child Protection.

Can you talk broadly about the shared challenges that you have to deal with when working with the kids?

One of the biggest challenges I face is helping the kids create a routine for their own selves, like going home early, staying off the streets, supporting them to go to school more. I basically try and provide any support I can give them with the challenges that they find difficult for themselves. The work is pretty broad.

Talk to me about your average day to day work life. What does that look like?

In the morning, we meet up with the Olabud Doogethu Team. We’ll come up with a plan, and then go out and look for our clients – catching up with them, see what they need, help them out. Some days are quiet, some days are busy, it depends on how the clients are and if they’re in town. Some of our clients are out in communities or even in boarding schools.

How do the kids come to your team’s attention?

Some of the kids are referred to from Department of Child Protection, some of them from the Youth Engagement Night Officer crew, the police, or even referred directly from the community.

Can you talk about how it is working with different agencies and service providers?

We work regularly with the Department of Child Protection, depending on the kids. If they require any further assistance, we’ll probably meet up with them once a fortnight or once a week – depending on how much support the kid needs.

 

Can you talk about the biggest challenges the kids face in their lives?

 I think one of the biggest challenges that the kids face is getting an education – getting kids engaged with schooling. I think if we can help them or encourage them to go to school more, it would be a big tick for them. Some of the kids have no interest in school. If the kids get into a better routine, they could get to school on time, focus at school and so on.

In the coming months, we’ll be launching the Mibala (‘us together’ in Kriol). Can you talk a bit about Mibala, what it’s about, and what does Mibala mean to you?

I think it’s going to be a good program. We’ll try to get the kids into a school routine. Get them learning in a different way and it might encourage them to go back to school. But it’s also good for us because they’ll have someone they know, they’ll be comfortable with us and they’d come to us wanting to be a part of Mibala learning. 

The kids we’ll be working with are likely the kids that are totally detached from school. So we’ll just try and encourage them to get back into it slowly… try to get them to transition back into mainstream education through culture and Country.

The idea of Mibala focuses on using the strength of connection to culture and Country. Can you talk a bit about how connecting to culture and Country can help the kids?

Most of the kids here are too used to being in town… but it’ll be good for them to get out on to Country and learn from the old people while they can. They might come back with a different perspective on life. They probably won’t be stealing things if they proudly carry the knowledge of the bush and of the old people. 

I think some kids have a connection to Country, but some of the kids who don’t have transport or don’t have support around them… but if they do have the chance, they’ll take that opportunity and reconnect.  The main thing is transport, getting back on to Country. If there were any means of support to get back on to Country, they’d be out on Country now. 

 

Don Butcher: Men’s Tribal Centre

Donald Butcher, a Kija and Jaru man, was born and raised in Halls Creek. As part of the Elder's Advisory Committee, one of the upcoming initiatives he is leading on is establishing a Men's Tribal Area in Halls Creek for fathers and sons, with the hopes of guiding them to a better future.

Donald Butcher, a Kija and Jaru man, was born and raised in Halls Creek. Growing up in Halls Creek in the 1960s, he recalls: ‘it was pretty scrubby… we had plenty of people from different tribes and we got on well when I was young’.

Like many others of his generation, Don finished school and worked in a stockyard and as a station hand. ‘I grew up mostly doing work on the stock yard… on the station… In this town, most of the old people, it was the only life we knew when we left school,’ said Don.

Looking back on his life, Don said the Halls Creek he grew up in was a lot different to what Halls Creek is today.

‘The kids are different now… they don’t have what we had – discipline… and being taught by our family everything that we know,’ said Don.

Olabud Doogethu identified the need for a Men’s Tribal Area, where men can come together and learn from each other, as well as the local Elders.

‘We’re starting to set up a Men’s Tribal Area, an area for fathers and sons… try to keep them out of trouble and have a better future… They got everything they need – but they need jobs and someone to give them that push,’ said Don.

‘We are trying to see what we can establish and slowly engage them and address the troubles in this town… it’s all about getting young men involved, so they know in the future they’ve got something to achieve,’ said Don.

Don hopes that the future generation hears his words:

‘You are the next generation. You’ve got to look forward to what you can achieve and build on it – for your family, for your community, and for this town.’

Dean Mosquito: Executive Officer of Culture and Transformation

When Dean Mosquito left school at 15 years old, he worked as an Aboriginal Teacher's Assistant (ATA). Finding a passion to help others succeed in life, Dean wants to use his lifetime of experience to help children build a better future through Mibala Learning On Country.

Dean is a Kija and Jaru man who grew up in Warmun and Halls Creek. When Dean left school at 15 years old, he quickly found a passion to help children learn and succeed which he has carried through his entire life.

`The best part was helping kids get jobs…. I’d help the teacher by translating the lessons to the kids and help break down the English, since most kids were from out of town,’ Dean recalls from his early days as an ATA.

Dean is Olabud Doogethu’s Executive Officer for Culture and Transformation, which includes providing strategic direction for the Mibala Learning On Country program. Mibala seeks to help children develop a strong sense of ‘self’ by taking them out on to Country to reconnect them to their Aboriginal culture, which will then support their efforts to re-integrate into mainstream schooling or pursuing employment pathways.

‘Mibala will be teaching kids cultural stuff. We’ll try to get them ready [for life]… to identify who they are, where they’re from… because most of our kids don’t know who they are and they’re missing out on what’s really important – which is our identity and culture,’ said Dean.

‘I hope when they come out of Mibala, they feel proud of themselves, what they have achieved, where they’re going in life and to learn how to respect their land, their culture and their language,’ said Dean.

Dean is excited to see how the Mibala program can make an impact on the children in Halls Creek. But he also knows that it’s ultimately up to the next generation to build the future that they want.

‘At the end of the day, it’s all about choice. We can teach you all of this. But as a matter of fact, it’s up to you how you put it together,’ said Dean.

Junior T: Youth Engagement Night Officer

Thomas Bradshaw, known commonly as 'Junior T', left Halls Creek for Gippsland when he was just 11 years old. Now, at 19 years old, Junior T has returned home and is a role model for the children in Halls Creek working as a Youth Engagement Night Officer.

‘I was really excited at first… But actually, I was homesick for two weeks straight. I had the phone right next to me when I would go to sleep. Then whenever I would wake up, I just called Mum,’ said Junior T as he recalled how he felt about moving from Halls Creek to Gippsland, Victoria.

Today, Junior T is one of the youngest members of Olabud Doogethu. Junior T joined the YENOs only three months ago, but he’s seen as a young and rising star in Olabud Dooethu.

Walking the streets at night, the YENO team began two years ago as an initiative to keep local kids out of trouble. Growing up in Halls Creek, Junior T has fond memories of Halls Creek, especially with his Grandfather.

Junior T recalls, ‘It’s changed a lot. I used to be out bush with my Granddad a lot. Now he’s got work and that, he’s a very busy man. Back in the day, I used to go road trips with him and now, not anymore.’

‘As a Youth Engagement Night Officer, it’s been really good – being a role model and stuff. Trying to teach them the ways. Some listen, and some don’t. But they all get there,’ said Junior T.

As part of the YENO team, the YENOs rely on their ability to connect and engage with the children. Sometimes, this involves a bit of creativity.

‘We’re actually thinking… like one weekend with a couple of fellas and kids and take them out bush and go camping. So we were planning on doing that – and then, telling the kids, if we get your name down and you have three ticks – you’re not allowed to come,’ said Junior T.

While it’s hard work, Junior T hopes that the children grow up knowing their impact on the community.

Since YENO began two years ago, Halls Creek has successfully achieved a 58% reduction in burglaries; 35% reduction in stolen motor vehicles and 28% reduction in stealing offences.