While National Indigenous Times journalists spend much of their time highlighting inequity in society, keeping those in power accountable and asking the hard questions, they also like to shine the spotlight on the good stuff that’s going on in communities. There is plenty to be celebrated, so here we have compiled the feel-good stories of 2021 in hope we can all take some of the positive energy from them into 2022 with us.

Something new for snail mail

Inspired by a community movement led by Gomeroi woman Rachael McPhail, Australia Post encouraged people to include Traditional Place names in the addresses on their letters and envelopes.

In July when Australia Post launched its new packaging with a dedicated space for the additional details, Ms McPhail expressed her delight that Australia Post built on her idea and encouraged Australians to improve their knowledge of Indigenous heritage.

Chris Heelan with the new packaging. Photo supplied.

Speaking in toungue

Plans were put in place for New South Wales first bilingual school where an Aboriginal language is one of the two languages spoken to open in 2022.

The Gumbaynggirr Giingana Freedom School is an initiative by the Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan Aboriginal Corporation.

Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan translates to “two path strong” in Gumbaynggirr language.

One of the main goals at BMNAC is the revitalisation of Gumbaynggirr language and its everyday use. 

Bundjalung man Clark Webb has helped to establish the school.

“You know we really need to act now on it and make sure our language stays strong,” he said.

Ready steady Wiggle

Taribelang and Djiabugay woman Evie Ferris became the first Aboriginal Wiggle.

As part of the group’s newly launched YouTube series Fruit Salad TV, the brand increased the cast by four — one more Wiggle for each colour of yellow, red, blue and purple.

The brand announced its new cast members, saying they’re “seeking to inspire a diverse audience with its gender-balanced and diverse cast”.

An integral part of Australian children’s television, The Wiggles wanted to ensure that kids were seeing “themselves reflected on screen”.

Connections strengthened

Researchers in Sydney were taken by surprise at results from a study they carried out on isolation in COVID-19 lockdowns.

Staff from the University of Sydney Research Centre for Children and Families found Aboriginal community and kinship ties had a profoundly protective effect against the isolation that comes with COVID-19 lockdowns.

Darug woman and research assistant Irene Wardle said interviews with staff in Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations revealed a strong sense of empowerment in communities.

“When I started to listen to their stories, their stories were about … a celebration of how communities come together,” Ms Wardle said.

Tulle and dust

With Australians adapting to life in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, communities including those in Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula continued to live with restrictions on their movements.

But the ‘new reality’ also brought new opportunities for prep students at the Hope Vale campus of Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy.

These children were able to access ballet classes for the first time thanks to so many businesses moving online.

Photos of the little, barefoot, ballerinas in their tutus with the dramatic Cape York landscape shared on social media made people across the country smile.

 

Photo by @huntingthehomelands

Representing society

The appointment of Australia’s first young, queer and Indigenous Commissioner signalled a point in time where society had started to “recognise the many parts that make up who we are.”

Wiradjuri man, Todd Fernando was appointed Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities in Victoria in October.

He became the second person to step into the ground-breaking role for the state.

The 32-year-old identifies as queer and is a descendant of the Kalarie Peoples of the Wiradjuri nation.

Fernando, believed to be the only openly queer and Aboriginal Commissioner in the nation, has a strong passion for improving the lives of LGBTIQ+ communities.

“It’s time to build on existing achievements by connecting more closely with LGBTIQ+ people, communities, and organisations, while recognising the many parts that make up who we are.”

 

By Aleisha Orr