Empowering communities and empowering kids, Norman Bartie is driving change by pursing his passion.
Born and bred in southeast Queensland, Bartie now resides on beautiful Bundjalung Country in Byron Bay. He has Wakka Wakka ancestry through his maternal linage.
Bartie is the Managing Director of iLH-Australia Group. Founded in 2017, it’s a small civil and labour hire company that works to recruit and support Indigenous people into employment.
“It is a holistic and traditional company, meaning that the money we make, the way we operate and the way we do things, is in alignment with a holistic space,” said Bartie.
“Our purpose is really to bring about more conscious and ethical business practices without losing our identity in the business world … [and] from that, teaching the next generation an ethical way of doing business.
“Those same principles of not overfishing that waterhole for the next tribe or person to come through—but implementing that in business.”
iLH ensures sustainable support to those engaging with the company.
“To get a job with us, I do a deep screening. People might call up wanting a job in the mines and say they want to do it for the money,” said Bartie.
“I’ll say, ‘What’s the money going to give you? Security, or happiness?’ That’s backwards be happy now so that your happiness isn’t determined by the mining market.
“Money isn’t the issue, it’s fear of success or fear of failure. We want people on the jobsite who are more confident in who they are and what they’re working for.”
iLH has a clear purpose, not only to holistically support employees but to give back.
“We operate in a very rushed industry which is normally filled with alcohol and smoking and fighting and suicide. We’re trying to be the change in that, and we’re profit for purpose,” he said.
“The money we make goes into support [for] our wellbeing workshops and our charities for kids who are affected by domestic violence, loss and trauma.”
In 2018 Bartie established the charity, It’s Not Your Fault 4 Kids Inc which supports children experiencing trauma from domestic violence households. The decision to establish the charity came from Bartie’s own experiences and own healing.
“It was my own anger and my own suffering that drove me to find peace,” he said.
“I was forced to have a look at my own trauma and pain and from that I did a seminar for four days that helped me look at my own ego and the hurt I’ve put on people—even though it was justified in my brain. And the hurt I’ve put on myself too.
“I was looking for validation from everyone else but not me, because deep down I believed that the things that happened to me in my childhood were because I wasn’t worthy.”
“Once I found that I am responsible for my own happiness, and once I realised, I am worthy, my life changed.”
“People who feel worthy, think worthy, say and do worthy things. Those things we say and do, reinforces a belief system about worth which reinforces worthiness inside.”
It’s Not Your Fault 4 Kids Inc operates through a referral and word-of-mouth process and assists both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children. Part of the program includes monthly workshops in Byron Bay and the Gold Coast.
“They have that connection, there isn’t much talk about domestic violence, there isn’t much talk about Mum and Dad, or hard times in the family. It’s just a moment for them to connect with nature, and be themselves,” he said.
In 2019, Bartie drove his car 94,000km across Australia, spreading the message of the charity to Indigenous communities.
“I went to a lot of communities to let kids know that domestic violence in any form is never their fault,” he said.
“It speaks directly to their irrational core belief that, if I was prettier, if I was darker or lighter or taller, if my body was different, if I was smarter at schoolwork then my parents would accept me, people would accept me.”
“We want to teach kids that no matter your background, no matter what has happened to you, you have to be who you truly are.”
Bartie broke a Guinness World Record in 2019 for the longest travel on a ride-on excavation tool. He drove a backhoe displaying the charity’s banner 5,649 kilometres across Queensland, outback NSW, Victoria then to Parliament House in Canberra.
“I had this big sign on the front saying ‘It’s Not Your Fault’. Letting kids know, pulling up out the front of schools and kids really giving me the thumbs up and smiling when they read it,” he said.
“It was something really special, we got around 18 million views on local evening news too—had heaps of people contact us!”
With big things already accomplished and more on the horizon, Bartie remains incredibly grateful, humble and grounded.
“All I know is that there are two guarantees in life: you are born with a bare bum and you’re going out with a bare bum!”
By Rachael Knowles