My name is Mariah Andrews; I am a proud Yorta-Yorta / Bangerang woman from Shepparton in Victoria
My name is Mariah Andrews; I am a proud Yorta-Yorta / Bangerang woman from Shepparton in Victoria. As a young Indigenous woman growing up in country Victoria, life was both interesting and challenging. As a young girl, I experienced a lot of racism. Being bullied for being indigenous really hurt me and made me feel that my people did not matter, in this society. However, it was then I decided to be me and to be proud of who I was. I learnt to grow up quickly; leadership was something that I had to take on, as I was the oldest child in the family and had to set an example for the younger ones. What frustrated me the most as a young child was having my parents separated; I find this hard to deal with. Interesting parts of my life with learning about both sides of my family tree and my culture. I completed my primary schooling in Echuca and secondary schooling in Mooroopna. While at secondary school, I got involved in many community events. I participated in most school sporting events such as athletics, basketball and swimming sports. As a young teen, I had a passion in helping and assisting the indigenous community. My biggest inspiration and my hero, was my grand father, pupa Watson. He lived his life helping and assisting indigenous people, facing the law. So keeping that in mind, I decide to assume my grandfather’s role, and go down a similar path. I guess you could say I wanted to finish what he started. While in year 11, I become a participant of the Ganbina Youth Leadership Program. This was an action packed program that develops youth leadership by exposure to various leadership styles and experience. The leadership program took me to Melbourne, Sydney and New Zealand, where we meet with many different types of leaders and there leadership styles. This program helped me open my eyes to other indigenous communities, and to see what these communities dealt with on day-to-day basis made me only realise more that this was something I not only wanted to do but also needed to do as a young up and coming leader in the indigenous community. After I had experienced the things I did in my life, it was then I knew I wanted to be a part of the community and help to change indigenous disadvantage for the better. I am now working for the Department of Justice as a trainee, trying to put my foot in the door of this organisation, to assist indigenous people in the future. I hope for me, that this type of work will help me set out to achieve my goals and to understand my culture and myself. In Shepparton, I would like to see less indigenous people unemployed, to reduce the high number of indigenous people in trouble with the law and most of all I would like to see more young indigenous kids staying in school and less leaving.