Kylie Bell is OzChild’s Aboriginal Cultural Advisor in Victoria, helping to deliver culturally safe services and practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.
What is the most enjoyable thing about your current role?
To be given the opportunity to work with my community and stay connected to them in this new and exciting space and bring them along on the journey.
And what are some of the biggest challenges?
The ongoing gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians as well as the over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander children and young people in the Out-of-Home Care (OOHC) due to past policies and practices that were forced upon our people through colonisation and which still impacts our community today.
The NAIDOC Week theme for 2019 is Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together. What does this mean to you?
I welcome these discussions – it is a very exciting time for our community to start to have these discussions around Sovereignty and Treaty and map out our own way moving forward with self-determination.
Tell us about your own history?
My family, like all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have been impacted by past policies and practices and we are still to this day, trying to heal and repair like all other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families from those past policies and practices.
I am a proud Yorta Yorta woman I have worked at the coal face of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family welfare in the southern metro of Melbourne for over 13 years.
Like many other people in my local community, I volunteer and I’m the current chair for the Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (ALECG) as well as sitting on many other community groups and boards.
Where are your Mob from?
My clan group is Ulupna; one of eight clan groups that make up the Yorta Yorta Nation. Our country radiates from the Murry River on both sides in all directions, roughly from Cohuna in the West to just outside of Albury/Wodonga in the East, to a northerly point in NSW around 20-30km from Finley and extends South into Victoria just short of Nagambie.
I was born and raised on Country in the town of Finley not knowing that I was Aboriginal, and that I had my Aboriginal family living in the towns around Finley. They attended the same school as me from time to time and we played netball and softball and swam in the Dungula (the river).
I never knew that I was living on my traditional Country were my ancestors had once lived in tune with the seasons. They raised their families, hunted, fished, traded, performed ceremonies, discussed business and land management all according to the seasons, ceremonies and their lore.
What part of your culture is most important to you?
My connection to my family, my community and my land.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your people?
Where do I start? In short, our resilience.
What will you do to celebrate NAIDOC week?
One of my sisters refers to it as our “Black Christmas”. We attend the flag raising ceremony at the Dandenong and district Aborigines co/op and the march in Melbourne, as well as taking my little one back up on Country to attend community events. We also attend local NAIDOC events as well.