FRUSTRATED with the overwhelmingly negative media coverage surrounding indigenous Australians, Applecross resident, Noongar and reigning Miss NAIDOC Shelley Cable set out to change perceptions.
After joining forces with friend Mikayla King (Kalkadoon and Indjalandi-Dhidhanu), the pair launched 100 Days of Deadly Mob, a Facebook page designed to shine a light on the quiet indigenous achievers shaping the Perth community.
The project draws inspiration from internationally acclaimed blog Humans of New York, as well as a similar “role model noticeboard” at Ashfield Primary School.
“Mikayla and I got together and started brainstorming a list of people we could profile,” Ms Cable said.
“We ended up with close to double the 100 that we wanted and then picked five each to interview as a starting point.”
While 100 Days of Deadly Mob was designed to spread positivity, it launched during a time of widespread community volatility: August 31, the day immediately following the Kalgoorlie riots.
“We posted our first story about Glenda Kickett, an elder who overcame family dispossession and foster care to dedicate her life to education, and is now completing a PhD at the University of Western Australia,” Ms Cable said.
“We were absolutely blown away by the response. When the post reached 10,000 people on the first day, we knew we were on to something.
“Now we’re reaching 300,000 people per month, and our readership is expanding every day.”
The project is now at the halfway point and Ms Cable, a 21-year-old finance analyst by day, has just commenced a six-month break from her career to concentrate on community work.
“With the project tackling issues like Stolen Generation, skin colour, welfare dependency and cultural identity, our readers are getting a real sense of the topics that influence the identity and lives of indigenous people in Perth,” she said.
“The stories of resilience and achievement we’ve uncovered are stories the whole community can be proud of.”
You can find the project on Facebook by searching for “100 Days of Deadly Mob” – see page 2 for some examples.
Sheila Humphries, Noongar (Yuet)
“I’m Stolen Gen. I was taken from my Mother twice; once when I was three, and again when I was seven. I got to spend three months with my mother before I was taken the second time.
I hate when people say ‘but it was for your own good.’ If people knew what happened there, they would never say that. I was so damaged from it, and so full of hate, that I never wanted to look at a white person ever again.
The strongest memory I have was when I found out my mother died. Me and my sister were working in the laundry, when the Reverend Mother pulled us two aside.
Her exact words were, ‘your mother’s dead, now get back to your work.’
I’ve never forgiven her, and I’ll never forget that moment.
One night, 30 years after I left the mission, I woke up in the middle of the night sobbing like a child for my mother.
I was 54 years old. I had so much hurt inside of me because I’d never grieved. My husband encouraged me to write my memories down – get it out of me, and onto paper.
So I started in 1994, and I’m still going. It’s been going 22 years now. It’s slow progress because it’s so emotional. A lot of tears have gone into those pages.
I’ll finish it soon. I want it to be published, so I can share it with the world.
I’m going to call it Silent Tears, because all the girls in the Mission used to cry silently under their covers at night.
People need to know what happened, and I’m speaking out for all the people who can’t bring themselves to talk about it.”
Elisha Jacobs, Whadjuk Nyoongar (Irish and English heritage)
“Growing up I always thought that because I was gay, I’d be excluded from my Nyoongar culture.
As I got more involved in our community and learned cultural knowledge, I realised that wasn’t the case at all.
In fact, our culture is one of the most welcoming and accepting in the world.
I live every moment knowing that I’m blessed to be happy and healthy, because my life wasn’t always that way.
I started drinking and smoking at a young age, which then turned into harder drugs.
After using recreational drugs regularly, I ended up addicted to ice.
I wouldn’t eat or sleep for days, and I lost all my friends because my only priority was to get high.
At the time I thought I was living the good life, but I also knew that if I kept going down that path, I wouldn’t be here today – my body would have just given up.
I realised that the person I’d become was not the person I was meant to be.
With the help and support from my sister and mother, I turned my life around.
It was really hard getting sober and fighting off the cravings, but it was an even better feeling looking back and seeing what I had accomplished. I’ve been 100 per cent sober for over three years now.
I’m an experienced hair stylist and I’ve been working in the industry for 10 years (I started at the age of fifteen), and I’m currently working at a successful on-trend salon called Head Graffiti.
This year I was also privileged to style hair for the Miss NAIDOC Perth 2016 contestants along with the first ever all-Indigenous hair and makeup team assembled by the Miss NAIDOC working group.
As young people I believe that it’s our responsibility to spend time with our Elders and on country, so we can learn as much cultural information as possible and share that with future generations.”