William Haupt is a Skills Coach at OzChild who works with young children, teaching them important life skills and helping them reconnect with their culture.
Where are your Mob from?
I am from the Murrawarri Tribe of North Western NSW taken from my mother.
I also have a strong connection to the Mardigan Tribe of South West QLD through my father.
Tell us a little about your history?
I grew up in a small town in Queensland called Oakey. I was brought up with culture all around me which is why I am so strong in what I do today. I was taught how to tell our cultural stories through Aboriginal Art, song and dance from the age of 12. I have had my own Traditional Dance Troupe since the age of 16 and taught a large group of children how to dance. Our dance group is still in business to this day and we get asked to perform all over. The dance troupe has helped me achieve so much, including an Australia Day Regional cultural Award (Awarded to me by the PM), Queensland Arts and Cultural Award and I was Australia’s Creative Indigenous Youth of 2011. Culture changed my life for the better. I struggled through life until I connected with my culture and flipped my whole world around and gave me strength to be able to do the right thing and be a positive role model for our younger generations.
What part of your culture is most important to you?
In my eyes our stories, song, dances and language are the most important. We need to hold on to what we have left and keep sharing them to keep them strong for our younger generations.
The NAIDOC Week theme for 2019 is Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together. What does this mean to you?
Voice. Treaty. Truth is a good theme for this year’s NAIDOC. Voice is something not a lot of our people have when it comes to human rights, but if we look at the positive, we hold the oldest language and the first language of this country. This is a big one for me because I have the voice to pass on and keep some of the languages alive through song and dance. Treaty and Truth come together as we don’t have a treaty and a treaty with this country between the Australians and Aboriginal people will not be achieved if we do not tell the truth about our history of this country. The secret history of Aboriginal Australia is something that needs to be taught. The truth needs to come out so we all understand how it has shaped Australia today.
2019 is also the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages. How important is language to Aboriginal culture and how important is it to preserve indigenous languages?
Language is one of our most important bits of information we have left we need to learn and speak the language our old people spoke to keep it alive and strong. I am currently researching and collecting information on my mother and father’s language to help revitalise and strengthen the language for their tribes.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your people?
What makes me proud is how all our people across the country are natural warriors. After everything that has happened in the past, our old people fought and fought and because of them we are still here. We come together when needed and support all mobs during their struggles.
How will you be celebrating NAIDOC week?
To celebrate NAIDOC, I will spend the week performing and teaching everyone about our culture. This will also carry on when school comes back from holidays as I will also be teaching students at many different schools about our culture.