Stories and strengths – notes from a dad

Giinagaay Everyone, I’m John, a proud Gumbaynggirr person living on Turrbal country; I pay my respect to all Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations I live and work across.  

Being a dad myself, I love watching my girls grow. Being part of their personal milestones. Even throwing in a couple of sneaky influences of which footy team to support!  

A handy little tip from me? Combine the things they love and the things they may find a chore and you may reap great little wins. For example – the girls have daily piano practice which can be a bit repetitive for them (maybe not only for them). They both love the movie soundtracks to the Disney ‘Zombies’ movie, so one simple download and they get to play their songs if they get through their practice unscathed – winning!!  

While the piano is going well, we also started to explore identity lately which has been awesome. Whilst we don’t live on country, and haven’t got on country this year ☹, we’ve been learning about our Gumbaynggirr mob, language and where the name ‘Nambucca’ comes from, we just need to ease up on greeting everyone outside of the car window in lingo.  

Having the chance to catch up with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families doing great things in their own immediate and extended families as well as their communities has been inspiring both as a Dad and as a member of the Australian Indigenous community. I’ve picked up a couple of great tips from my journeys so far, including self-improvements on my relationships with my own brood.  

If there has been a standout message that I’ve picked up so far it is about having good support around you. These can come in all different styles as well, within and external to home – identifying the supports that are around and utilising them. As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, we come from communal ways of thinking and, doing so, it’s not a new thing – this is what we do!  

I was yarning to a Kuku Yalanji / Kaanju Aunty in Mossman last year who has been taking care of hers and a heap of other kids for most of her life, as did her parents. By my dodgy maths, that would put Aunt’s parents as kinship carers between the early and mid-1900’s, where ‘formal relative care’ received legal recognition for the first time in the provision of the Child Care Act 1991. Aunt’s story is not uncommon with our Mob, it happened in my family, and still is and that’s putting families first.  

While being in lockdown has put the brakes on, we’ll be on the move again to find more of these amazing stories – meeting more solid families and catching some deadly yarns. What we do know is we’ve only scratched the surface and there will be stories we’ll never get the chance to celebrate if they’re not given the chance. So over to you! Jump onto the Families are First page if you’d like to find out more, or email for the team to give you a call.

Last Updated: 30 June 2020