Wednesday, 6 May 2015

CEO for a Day - 6 May 2015

Some background on why I asked to be considered to be included in Generation One’s campaign for Indigenous Australians to have a ‘CEO for a day’ experience.

  • The GenerationOne CEO for a Day campaign is aimed at giving all Indigenous people the hope and belief that they too can be a CEO, of any organisation, one day.

It is well out of what would ordinarily be considered a writer’s comfort level.  I spend most days writing in my designated writing space, a short walk down the hallway from the other areas in my house that also from time to time serve as writing areas.  My movements depend on the weather and the time of day, and whether the kids walking to school outside are especially rowdy during the day, or the lowing of the cows in the paddock down the lane are too much of a mournful distraction in the middle of the night.

I was unprepared for just how big the Australian Resorts site is in Melbourne.  It will require a water bottle to get from one side to the other, when later in the day as part of my 'CEO for a day' experience, I take the daily floor walk of operations.

  • "This campaign is a great opportunity to instil in Australia’s mind that in our generation, we can have Indigenous Australians as CEO’s in Australia’s leading corporate companies." 
My mother was the eldest of eighteen children, and I am her eldest child. As the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter, I was raised in an environment of high expectations.

My mother grew up in a dirt-floored home and taught herself to read with a copy of Anne of Green Gables that she secreted within the branches of the tree that sheltered their two roomed home, as a precaution against her precious book falling foul of smaller inquisitive fingers.

I told this story when I accepted the David Unaipon literary award at the Brisbane Writers Festival in 2012 and for days after had many encounters with Festival readers and writers who said among other things that Anne of Green Gables had a special place in their heart too.

  • "We want to rid Australia of the racism of low expectations of Indigenous Australians, and help our young people to grow their aspirations."

We, all of us, connect with stories and can find common ground to share our life experiences but Indigenous Australians have yet to have our potential realized in a fair and just Australian society.

This is why I left the somewhat comfortable zone of thirty years of mostly high pressure Indigenous advocacy and made a career change later than most of the others I regularly meet at gatherings for emerging writers.

I had a belief in my self, which I thank my parents and extended family for nurturing from a young age. 

I can share the simple messages that have been passed down through my family. The importance of educationtake it as far as you can, and self beliefbe prepared to never stop trying, and social justice, it is never too late to make a difference.

When I compare myself to others in my family, I see I have yet to reach the sides of my working life.  My Aunty Evyln who is 83 years old, retired last year after seventy years in the work force.  For most of this time she was caring for other people’s children, including nearly fifty years as a teachers aid at the local primary school in our home town.  I am convinced this is why our tiny town is the only one in the district that was excempt from measures to bring literacy and numeracy levels up to being on par with educational standards.  My town didn’t need it – they were already there.

And my Aunty Yvonne who retired last year having reached 65 years old, with the last 32 years of her forty two years in the workforce spent at the same child care centre in a rural town in Queensland.

  • "Indigenous Australians are working in private sector roles, but more can be done to help lift the number of people working in managerial and executive positions. "

Both of these women started their working lives as domestics, at a time when education was not an option for Aboriginal kids, and twelve year old girls were indentured to station owners as domestics.  My mother also started as a domestic, and then was one of the women who drove cattle across Australia - from Townsville on the Queensland coast, down to Millstream Station in the Pilbara, some four hundred odd kilometres shy of the Western Australian coast.  She went on to work in kitchens and eventually owned her own catering company.  When ill health brought the end of her working life she finally had time to concentrate on her education, and passed away before she was able to complete her degree.  But I don't have the words for how proud I will always be of my mother.

  • "The GenerationOne CEO for a Day campaign is about highlighting the career choices that are available to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians." 

What their lives could have been is what motivates me to remain outside of my comfort zone.

  • "The CEO’s and organisations involved in this campaign have all made commitments under GenerationOne’s Australian Employment Covenant initiative to lift their Indigenous employment rates, and this campaign is a natural fit for the work they are already doing to help create sustainable socio-economic outcomes." 

I am grateful and humbled to be given this experience and excited about the day to come.  I will be sharing some of my day on social media and look forward to keeping the conversation going!

For more information about this campaign, and how you can be a part of breaking the cycle of low expectations please take the time to read the Generation One website here

1 comment:

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