Darwin raised but Melbourne based, Jack Williams writes how working hard and following his passion led him to mentoring the next Indigenous leaders of this generation.
My name is Jack Williams, I am an Indigenous man who grew up in Darwin.
My dad’s family is from the Tiwi Islands and my mother’s family is from North Stradbroke Island.
I did all of my junior schooling in Darwin. I played football and had a massive passion for it but I wanted to further my experience by playing at a higher level. By the time I reached high school a few of my Indigenous friends, who were keen sports players, were taking opportunities to transfer to schools that specialise in sport. They showed myself and others that you need to put in a lot of effort to give yourself a better chance at following your passion and reach your full potential.
I worked hard during my schooling to give myself that same chance and one lucky day I was given the chance of a lifetime to make a difference for my education and my sport.
At 15-years of age, I gained a full scholarship to attend a school in Melbourne. It felt amazing knowing I was doing my family proud because I was following my passion, but at times it was very challenging knowing that I was a long way from home and didn’t have my family, friends and community around me.
Moving to Melbourne and attending the school really helped me in getting to where I am today. It also made me realise what a big divide there is between Indigenous and non-Indigenous education. Indigenous kids don’t have the same access to opportunities in education as non-Indigenous kids.
This realisation gave me the passion to want to do more for my people. Two years ago I was fortunate enough to land a job at Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS) as a Boarding Co-ordinator. I jumped at the opportunity.
MITS is a school that helps young Indigenous students explore their talent by providing an opportunity to move to the big city from rural and remote places. We understand the challenges that young Indigenous people may face when transitioning from such strong cultural communities to the city. A lot our students haven’t even seen a train before. We empower our Indigenous students to step of out there comfort zone and take chances.
I personally know the experiences these kids are going through. I had a lot of good mentors myself who helped make my experience enjoyable. They are probably the reason why I ended up finishing my schooling in Melbourne. They made it feel like home, like community.
Being a mentor for these young Indigenous leaders, I realise how much of an impact being kind and showing support can have on their life. I have really started to understand what small and large acts of kindness can do on the surface but also on a deeper level.
I am able to make a difference in the work I do by creating opportunities and teaching our students how to become teachers of their culture outside of their community.
I understand the importance of always being proud of where you come from, what you stand for, and keeping your culture alive. These kids are the future and they have the power to create change because they are the next leaders of this generation.
By empowering this young mob, we will give them the knowledge and power to make change in a positive way. They will become leaders in the community for their own family so others can follow in their footsteps.