First of all I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands we are gathered upon today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. I’d like to pay my respects to elders past and present.
My name is Bindi Bryce, through my mother I am a proud descendant of the Barkindji people, traditionally from far western NSW.
My story goes back all the way to the 1920’s, when two people, Jack and Evelyn Mallyer, who along with their daughter, also named Evelyn, were forced on to the Brewarrina mission, which is located around the Broken Hill/Bourke area. It was here my great grandparents settled and where most of my family still lives today.
During this period, little Evelyn Mallyer was eligible to be taken from her family and become part of what is today known as the Stolen Generation. However this never happened, and she was one of the very lucky few who were never removed. According to my mum, she was just too clever. She knew her land very well, and when policemen came searching for half caste children, she was always able to fool them and find places to hide.
Its very fortunate that she was never taken because if she had, she never would have met my grandfather, Ray Crawford in Brewarrina, and I might not exist..
They had 13 children together, my mother Rebecca being the second youngest. When I was growing up, she would tell me stories of how she grew up in a tin house on the banks on the Darling River, how she would go swimming almost every day and how the whole riverbank was her backyard.
To this day, the Darling River holds a very special place in the hearts of myself and the rest of my family. Our family gatherings consist of camping, fishing and yabbying.
Upon finishing school, my mother was awarded a scholarship to the University of New England in Armadale, and a residential place at Austin College. Upon graduating she moved to Sydney, where she met my father Jason while they were both working for the land council.
I was born in 1993, and my younger brothers Atticus and Nelson soon followed. When I was born, my mother wanted to give me a Barkindji name, and it was Evelyn who suggested naming me Bindi, which means Thunderstorm in our language.
I spent most of my early years growing up in Sydney until 1999 when my parents decided to move to Broken Hill so we could be closer to the family. We remained here until I was in Year 9. In 2009 we decided to move to Melbourne so my mother could take up work with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Agency and my dad could pursue his journalism career.
We settled in Altona which is just off the West Gate, and I finished my secondary education at Bayside Secondary College in Newport. Although Ive lived the majority of my life in cities, my mum has always made sure that Ive never forgotten who I am or where I come from.
Upon finishing Year 12, I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to undertake an Arts degree at the University of Melbourne and a place at Ormond College. Throughout my High school years I was always very introverted, and lacked a lot of confidence.
My final results weren’t spectacular and there were many times when I felt like I didn’t deserve the opportunities that I had been awarded. When I first started living at Ormond I would shy away from debates in my tutorials and even in the dining hall. I feel that being a part of the Ormond community has allowed me to become much more assertive and confident in my ideas and opinions.
I am currently majoring in English and History. I have a particular passion for 19th Century English Literature, and I intend on pursuing this when I commence graduate studies.
To be honest, I am not entirely sure what career path Im headed towards at the moment. Ever since I was a little girl, Ive always loved reading and writing, and to have a job which utilizes these skills would be a dream come true. Ive always thought that the publishing industry would be an excellent fit for me, or perhaps journalism.
At the start of the year I was fortunate enough to be awarded the Renate Kamener scholarship. As a 3rd year student whose workload has become increasingly more difficult, the scholarship has helped me greatly in reducing my financial burden and it has allowed me to focus on my studies.
One thing Ive noticed with my brothers, my younger cousins and many other young Indigenous kids Ive met in the last few years is that while many like the idea of further education, for some reason they believe the idea is unrealistic or too expensive. I feel in many ways I have continued in my mothers footsteps, and set an example for them to follow. I like to think I have proven to them that if they want to attend University or live in a place like Ormond the only thing stopping them is themselves.
I would like to thank the Kamener family and the Jewish Democratic society for awarding me this wonderful scholarship. I believe opportunities such as this have helped to continue the tradition of women in my family overcoming the odds and defying expectations.