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Transcript

Stanley soars to new heights

Stanley

You felt very out of place sometimes. You felt homesick. You didn’t know anyone there. But after a while gradually you know the [staffings], they were great to me. Teachers were good and I also got along with the students. Yeah, it was very good.

Kate (host)

Stanley is from a big family, and a small town, but he knew that to realise his dreams he would have to leave his small Central Queensland community.

It was a tough decision for Stanely to move away from his friends and family at Woorabinda, but boarding at Rockhampton, about 170kms away, meant he could finish Year 12. Woorabinda’s local high school doesn’t go to Year 12, so for the community, which is about 90 per cent Aboriginal, that means a lot of young people don’t finish school.

Stanley

Year 10 I went to Baralaba State School. I had completed my year nine and year 10 there at Baralaba. Baralaba stops at year 10 and so it was either boarding school or a high school. High school within my community, Woorabinda, or going to Camden or Yeppoon.

So it was chosen for me to go to the Cathedral College in Rockhampton, where I completed my year 11 and 12 there, also a boarding student.

Kate

And what was that like, going away so far, far from community?

Stanley

It didn’t bother me. I was sat down and spoken to from family. It was about education, going away for education. I had no concerns. I just wanted to go. Year 11 was a tough first year. Coming from an Aboriginal community I was very nervous.

Kate

But you had support from Red Cross, right, and you were there with other Aboriginal student boarders?

Stanley

Yeah, it felt great knowing that there was someone there to support you throughout your boarding, and also throughout studies, assessments and assignments.

I wanted to graduate. There was also an emotional side too because it was the first out of my family of 12 … 11, to graduate from high school. I thought it was a great achievement for myself, and yeah, it was wonderful.

Kate

You’re the baby among the boys and number 10 of 12 children, and now you’re the first to graduate. What made finishing school so important for you? Did you understand the difference it could make?              

Stanley

Well, I had a very fair idea. There was an inspiration from grade four or grade five, or maybe younger. There was an inspiration there for nursing and it was through becoming very involved within manual handling with my mum. At a very young age she was intellectually impaired and a disabled woman. And so showering, toileting, and feeding was a basic everyday thing for me to do, to get involved.

Kate

That’s a huge responsibility for someone so young, but clearly it had a big influence.

Stanley

There were heaps of family there but I was always there with my mum. She was wheelchair bound so looking after her at a very young age, that's where the inspiration come from. I always thought I would be somewhere in the nursing category or to become a nurse or a doctor or something.  

Kate

Wow, that’s such a clear goal. I feel like it’s more than just family that’s influenced that decision. What role does community play for you? Can you see yourself going away to study and coming back?  

Stanley

I think everyone who lives in the Aboriginal communities or any communities, any indigenous communities, you’re wanting to go out, receive the education that you need or that you want to support your community and you come back home and you give back. That's the most beautiful thing.

And I know nurses … A great friend of mine, she’s a nurse living in Brisbane. She’s now back. Her first year in Woorabinda is just she has a registered nurse and she’s a local here. She feels proud to come back home. But obviously, I’m going to go and have my own fun for a few years and then come back home.

But giving back to community, that's the most important thing.

Kate

Do you think though that’s something that’s part of who you are as a person and the life experience you’ve had taking on a caring responsibility at such a young age? What’s the exposure for other young people at Woorabinda?

Stanley

Being part of the Woorabinda Youth Leadership Group here with the Red Cross,   we would go away for trips to Taroom and just take the youth out and do             activities and events with the youth.

They ask us questions because most students here, they don’t have probably          parents to look up to or talk to. This was a group that would come to speak to let        you know what they wanted. We would get their advice or opinions of what        they’re wanting. They would come round, have a yarn, talk to you. 

Kate

And that peer support, that’s made a difference? Do they have the same ambitions as you to be youth leaders in the community?

Stanley

Well, I hope for them to be … When I’m going next year, who’s going to be here for the youth group? Who’s going to put on these events that our community really look up to for their entertainment or just for community activities? Who’s going to be here for that? We’re not going to be here forever. So we have to pass our knowledge on to the little ones now.

Kate

Stanley started at Sunshine Coast University earlier this year, doing the foundation studies needed to start on the health and medical subjects he’s enrolled in. He’s had to move away from Woorabinda again, but he knows it’s in good hands. Young people from the community performed cultural dances at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April and more students are preparing to leave for boarding schools in and around Rockhampton next year.

Stanley’s brought a lot of good to his community and you can too. Visit redcross.org.au to bring your good and take an action with Australian Red Cross today.

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