Header image with The Youth Mentor Podcast logo, Season 3, Episode 20 featuring Amanda Rootsey.

In this episode we’re joined by Louise O’Reilly who shares her perspective as an Aboriginal woman on how we can best support and mentor young people, drawing from her own lived experiences and past work as a youth worker. She shares:

  • Louise’s experience of growing up Aboriginal in Australia
  • How Aboriginal kinship structures bring people closer together and what we can learn from this
  • The importance of validating Aboriginal identities, cultures and perspectives
  • Unpacking personal biases and privilege to be a better ally and mentor
  • Amplifying the voices and involvement of Aboriginal youth

Subscribe on iTunes | Subscribe on Spotify | View all episodes

Sound bite

[00:00:00] Louise: in our society at the moment, if young people do something we disapprove of or seems antisocial to us, the way they are, I guess, punished or dealt with is through that exclusion. It is through isolation. It is through, uh, social alienation. All those kinds of things. Which can be really, really difficult. Something we actually do in our culture is that when people are having a hard time or having trouble, isolation is the furthest thing that we do to them.

[00:00:44] We pull them in. We remind them how loved they are. We remind them of their stories. We remind them of their achievements. We remind them of who they are in their soul.

Podcast introduction

[00:00:59] Amanda: Hello and welcome to the youth mentor podcast. This is your short burst of inspiration tips and research about teens for parents, educators, and mentors. I’m your host, Amanda Rootsey, founder of teen personal development school Shine From Within and coach to incredible youth mentors all over the world. Now I certainly don’t know it all.

[00:01:17] So I interview the experts about what’s going on for youth today. From psychological insights to really practical advice, this is your moment of inspiration, motivation, and a few laughs amidst the ever changing world of teens and tweens.

episode introduction

[00:01:31] Hello, I’m so excited to have you here for this episode. It was such a fantastic conversation with Louise O’Reilly in which she shares her perspective as an Aboriginal woman on how we can best support and mentor young people drawing from her own lived experiences and past work as a youth worker. Louis shares her experience of growing up Aboriginal in Australia and navigating. Um, as she puts it to worlds. Um, we talk about how Aboriginal kinship structures bring people closer together and what we can learn from this. 

[00:02:01] I think this is going to be so valuable for any families and any people, you know, working with with young people. But. More broadly as well. I found it really interesting. We talked about the importance of validating, Aboriginal identities, cultures, and perspectives. Unpacking personal biases and privilege to be a better ally and mentor to young people. Uh, and you know, just to be a better human. And Louis shared some, some really wonderful insights and tips on amplifying the voices. And involvement of Aboriginal youth in any decisions that we’re making. Um, Yeah, it was such a fantastic chat.

[00:02:37] I’ve been, um, waiting to share this with you because I’ve been quite sick for a couple of weeks, but, um, so you might be able to hear it in my, in my voice here, but I couldn’t wait any longer to, to share this with you. 

main interview

[00:03:02] Amanda: Welcome Louise to the Youth Mentor Podcast. I’m so thrilled that you’re joining me today on this, in this conversation. And I’d love to start by taking a moment to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where I am joining from today. That’s the Gubbi Gubbi people. So I’d love to pay my respects to their elders past present.

[00:03:21] Um, yeah, and I’m so, so thrilled to, to be getting to chat with you today about this topic. And yeah, I mean, from what I know you’ve got, um, such a Beautiful, unique perspective to share, on supporting young people and, and your own lived experiences. And I know you’ve been a youth worker in the past as well in regional communities.

[00:03:44] I know that you’re a mom, um, and I’m just always so excited when we get a chance to, to chat. And I learned so much from you in your, um, inclusive creators community. Um, yeah, so I’m just thrilled that we can have this, this chat. Welcome, Louise. 

[00:04:00] Louise: Oh gosh, thank you so much for inviting me here.

[00:04:03] These are the types of conversations that I absolutely love having. And I love having them with you in particular. So, thank you so much. Um, I too would like to pay the acknowledgement of country as well. So, I’d like to acknowledge the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation as the 

[00:04:19] traditional and ongoing custodians of the lands and waters on which I’m coming to you from and pay respects to the elders here. Um, it is through the custodianship that I acknowledge that I can exist in this place and thrive in this place, uh, and I definitely am so grateful for their, uh, contribution, uh, their custodianship.

[00:04:43] and their community guidance and leadership. I’m so, so grateful for that. So thank you so much again for inviting me. I can’t wait to have this conversation. Um, you know, the youth are particularly a special place in my heart. They always have. And, um, although this isn’t necessarily the place that I normally talk about or the space that I’m normally in, I feel that the youth are so Unbelievably important and, uh, to our community in so many different ways.

[00:05:19] And unfortunately they form a marginalized community that are very much oppressed in our society as well. So I feel like it’s very important to be talking about how amazing they are and how we can support them further. 

[00:05:34] Amanda: Yes. So true, isn’t it? We, I think we can forget sometimes the balance of power that we have right when, when dealing with young people and, um, absolutely.

[00:05:46] Yeah. Yeah. So would you, would you mind starting by sharing a little about your, maybe your upbringing and, and, um, how you ended up working with young people in the first place or your experience? Yeah, growing up here as a young person in Australia. 

[00:06:03] Louise: Oh, goodness. Goodness. Well, you know, it’s so interesting.

[00:06:08] No matter what age you are, you think you’re really old. So I think it’s a really, really long time, but I’m sure there are some people thinking you’re just a baby. Um, you’ve got, you’ve got plenty of time to go. But, uh, growing up in Australia, uh, as an identifying Aboriginal, um, girl and woman, um, for me, it was.

[00:06:31] Very, very difficult. Uh, as a young child, I very early recognized that people from different communities were treated very differently from one another. Uh, so I can recall around the age of maybe five or six, Really recognizing that different groups of people were treated differently and recognizing in particular that my family and my community were not a community or group of people who were recognized or included.

[00:07:04] Or, uh, in many instances, felt very unwelcome in all communal spaces. So it was really quite difficult to, uh, navigate that as a child. And especially when you’re forming, you know, who am I? What’s my identity? Uh, because we have these societal, uh, messages and conditioning that is constantly happening. And A lot of those messages are, Aboriginal people are bad or wrong in some way.

[00:07:39] They are a community of people who have all these particular negative traits that are undesirable. And that, uh, The type of culture that we have, the kinships that we have, are not acknowledged or recognized as real or credible and we are not welcome or we don’t belong in any of these spaces. So growing up, I kind of internalized this idea that I am bad or wrong in some way because of who I was born to be.

[00:08:14] And It was really difficult, um, and I know you can’t see me, but I identify as Aboriginal, uh, and I have white skin, so I am not What a lot of people would consider to be a stereotypical looking Aboriginal person. However, I am an Aboriginal looking person because I am Aboriginal. I hope you can understand that, what that means.

[00:08:41] So I also experienced quite a lot of colorism as well on top of racism growing up. People would constantly discredit my Aboriginality because I had white skin. And there were lots of concepts like, uh, you know, I’m not white enough to be included in the white group, but Because I have white skin, I was not considered black enough to be considered Aboriginal.

[00:09:15] Um, and this is from the, uh, you know, white perspective. So, it was kind of like I was stuck between two worlds, and didn’t belong to either. And I was also in a country that my people have been in for millennia, yet I was not welcomed here. So, lots of thoughts around, I don’t belong anywhere. were swelling through my mind.

[00:09:42] Uh, it made it very, very difficult to, uh, for my identity and to accept who I was. Because I also had thoughts of, and people have mentioned to me, why would you ever say you’re Aboriginal when you can get away with not being Aboriginal? When you look, don’t look like you’re Aboriginal. And that speaks massive volumes.

[00:10:11] That tells stories of, it being undesirable to be an Aboriginal person, and why would you ever choose to be that person? When you can choose to not be that person and get away with it, as they say, and this, this has been said to me by many, many people, um, and actually including family members. Uh, both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal family members, um, have said these things because we do also internalize those kinds of stories and racism.

[00:10:45] And we also do internalize the need for our safety as Aboriginal people. Sorry. A lot of my family has tried to, uh, project this idea of being white in some way, in order to keep safe. And those intergenerational traumas went through my family and were then tried to be passed on to me. Because they knew that if I could pass, Being white, that offered levels of safety to me that weren’t afforded to them.

[00:11:23] Um, especially when it comes to having our children. Because if I could be seen and accepted as white in my community, and then if I were to have children, the chance of my children being taken off me would be dramatically reduced. So, so much of that kind of trauma. Um, so that’s kind of how I went. I did struggle a lot during my teens with my identity.

[00:11:48] And I know that for a lot of your listeners, this will be, um, probably really valuable stuff to hear because a lot of the youth that you are working with probably have a lot of these same thoughts and concepts coming up in their own minds, uh, at the moment. So that’s kind of how I went. And When I did fall pregnant with my first child, it was amazing.

[00:12:15] It was magical. It was so beautiful. And then I remember a moment, it was a very pivotal moment for me, when I realized that I was going to birth another beautiful human into the world. And it was into a world that was so cruel to me. And I just thought to myself, this isn’t good enough for me, it isn’t good enough for my children, it is not actually good enough for anyone on the planet as it is.

[00:12:51] I’ve got to change the world to make sure that my children don’t have to experience what I experience, and I have to change the world to make sure. Anyone doesn’t experience what I experience. So that’s kind of how I got onto this, this space of being an inclusion, diversity, equity, and allyship coach, and, uh, why I am doing everything in my power to dismantle the status quo, dismantle racism.

[00:13:20] Dismantle, you know, genderism and ableism and sexism and ageism, and all those isms that keep us oppressed and liberate us from that into a society that’s more inclusive.

[00:13:35] Amanda: Thank you so much for sharing that. Louise. What a, what a privilege to hear a little about what you experienced growing up and Yeah, to hear the way that that intergenerational trauma have passed down and the experiences that you’ve had and how that’s impacted the way 

[00:13:53] that you have become a mother as well.

[00:13:56] and informed so much of who you are now and the work that you do in the world. And it’s such incredible, powerful, important work, work that we shouldn’t need. And it would be nice if you didn’t have a job to do at all. Um, but, um, yeah, incredible work that you do. And for anyone listening, um, I mentioned it already, but, , Louisa’s community is an incredible space to, to start to explore some of this stuff and unpack it and, um, be better at holding inclusive spaces for everyone around us, understanding humans a bit better, um, and our place in the world. Yeah. 

[00:14:35] You mentioned there as well, talking a little bit about, your kinships not being recognized and. There’s so much research I think coming out now as well around how we just have never really acknowledged the, the complexities of, of family dynamics, and family systems that can be within Aboriginal and First Nations communities and cultures and how it’s just not something that’s a part of non Indigenous, you know, white typical families.

[00:15:04] Um, and I think there’s so much that we might be missing out on there too, instead of going, that’s something different or we don’t maybe understand it and, and the impacts that that’s had over so many generations and

[00:15:16] would you mind sharing a little more about your experiences of, family dynamics, 

[00:15:21] Louise: it has been a beautiful experience to be able to live in both cultures. Um, at times it can be really difficult because they don’t always work well, um, with one another.

[00:15:40] However, because I exist and I am happy I am the example of how it can exist harmoniously. So I am, I am, I’m the manifestation of it living harmoniously. But through my, um, experiences, the big thing for me was the being discredited, uh, for my Aboriginal kinships and relationships, the way we actually have ours.

[00:16:09] I have, in my relationships with my family, so I have my, um, Scandinavian, um, heritage and then I have my Aboriginal heritage. Uh, so in the Scandinavian side, it’s very much the kinship is, uh, your stereotypical kinship of, um, that white kind of family. Uh, I’m sure I don’t need to explain that. We all kind of know how, how, you know, people are related to one another based on, where they’re born and how they’re born, all those kinds of things.

[00:16:39] But what I found with my Aboriginal kinship is that there was often curiosity on how I could have relationships. in different ways to the European standard of relationships, uh, which is absolutely fine. Curiosity is beautiful to have those kinds of things, but it was always tainted with that’s stupid, or that doesn’t make sense, or that’s ridiculous.

[00:17:08] So it’s always discrediting it. So, uh, people found it very difficult for me to say, uh, things like I have multiple mothers. Um, because my, my mother’s sister is my mother as well. And so it was really like, you can’t have two mums. That’s your auntie. That’s not your mum. Um, and to having so many, uh, grandparents.

[00:17:36] So like all my nan and pops, brothers and sisters are all my nan and pops. And that’s it. My, what would be regarded as, well, as regarded as my auntie’s children or uncle’s children. They are normally seen as cousins, but in the Aboriginal kinship system, they are our brothers and sisters. So we just have, uh, different ways to relate.

[00:18:02] to um, our families and the Aboriginal kinship system is pulling everyone in a bit closer. So it’s kind of like moving everyone in a step closer in relation to you. So that was That was really, uh, difficult. And even just concepts like, uh, not understanding that they could be your auntie or your uncle, but they don’t actually have to be blood relations.

[00:18:30] Um, not understanding that it’s also ways of forming relationships and kinship systems that aren’t based on blood, um, but rather through respect. So, Those kinds of things, uh, were not concepts that people could understand, because quite often people are taught there is one kind of system, and that’s the only one.

[00:18:58] So what we’re starting to do when you talk about different types of cultures is we’re breaking down those paradigms of understanding about different families and societal systems, and going There are actually multiple, there are many, many different ways to have kinship structures and societies. This is just one and it’s not one that all needs to be compared to, it’s not one that is better than the other, it’s just there are differences and when we can start to look at other cultures and look at how their societies works in their society, kinship systems work.

[00:19:37] We can then go, oh, that’s interesting how that works. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? Or that works really well. And we can look at our own kinship structures and go, uh, are there ways that we can actually improve this kinship structure? Based on what we know, because we’re always wanting to innovate the way we live our lives and grow and develop, and that is part of that evolution of us making sure we are bettering ourselves, bettering our world into the future.

[00:20:09] So just opening yourself up to these ideas that. The way that you know and have lived is not the only way. There are other ways, and nothing has to change in any way, but just knowing that there are more than one, and all of them are valid, uh, is really important. It 

[00:20:32] Amanda: sounds like such a beautiful, um, deeper, richer, um, Experience to be so, to be connected in that way and to have, have that much wider family system to kind of tap into and connect with and grow with and, um, feel supported by compared to, I don’t know, you just said it’s not about comparing, you know, compared to that, that really like nuclear kind of family where we’re really just isolating ourselves.

[00:21:01] You know? Yeah. 

[00:21:02] Louise: Well, there is no base model. So there’s no base. This is the foundation and everything’s built off it. It’s more like, because I mean, of course you’re going to compare because you’re going to look at what you’ve experienced in comparison. So it’s more like looking at it going, there is no base model of kinship structures or family structures.

[00:21:21] There are just many structures and I live in one structure and how does it different to others? But one other thing that, uh, people. Um, I really like to know about the way we do our kinship structures and relationships is one of the reasons it’s really important if you are mentoring, um, or doing any youth work with Aboriginal children and youth, who we are.

[00:21:50] In terms of our people and our clans and our language group and our family name are very, very important to us. So if you can express and understand the importance behind it, that can help you so much in your youth work. And if you are talking to your young person and talking about, okay, well, let’s talk a little bit about your mob.

[00:22:12] Um, You know, who are they? You know, what, what country is that? What’s, what’s the, what’s the word for hello? What’s the word for goodbye? Or all those different things, and having an interest in that shows that you are not only interested in validating them in their existence and their identity, um, but You are really, making the effort to connect with them on a soul level.

[00:22:41] Because that, it is actually more than who we are, um, because we identify so much with our community. And this is often, we, we don’t really care about job titles. You can be in many different jobs, it doesn’t, it doesn’t actually make a difference, that’s not who you are. Who you are is your stories.

[00:23:04] Your family’s stories. Your connection to land, your connection to language, your connection to culture, those things are important. And so when we meet each other, we always, you know, hey, who’s your mob? Because when we know who your mob is, when we know who your family is, we know how we are connected to each other.

[00:23:26] We know our relationship to each other. And then we know almost like our responsibility for each other and to each other. To care for each other and protect each other. So, it is a really beautiful practice that we have, that we know each other on a deeper level. Uh, because we also know about the family.

[00:23:46] We also know about the stuff that’s happened on those countries. We also know about the dreaming. We know where they came from. We know their stories. We know the types of arts they do and music and ceremony. It is so much more that you get to know about a person. When you can connect in that way. And that’s why we choose to connect through those ways.

[00:24:11] Amanda: Beautiful. So making sure we’re, yeah, we’re holding space and we’re asking those questions to really, um, get to know them on a deeper level. And it sounds like that can really support that sense of identity as well and just, um, help them feel heard and seen, which is kind of all we, all we really want. For any young person, hey.

[00:24:35] Louise: Yeah, and um, it’s important to understand that a lot of youth will be trying to reconnect with culture because we can’t ignore the fact that there’s been so much displacement. We can’t ignore the fact that it’s been stolen generations and families are still uh, trying to reconnect to lost family or um, they’re still trying to deal with the grief.

[00:25:01] Of, of those, uh, things. Because it’s in this generation that it happened. Let’s be real about this. It’s not past generations. It has been over many generations. And it has directly affected people in this generation. generation. So recognizing too that the youth might be trying to reconnect with their culture and having support for them to reconnect in those ways is really beautiful too.

[00:25:27] And um, having resources for them to find family or reconnect to their culture in some way is going to be an amazing way to support those young people. But also a beautiful way in building rapport and relationships with. That your young people is trying to say language, things in language, because not only is it showing them you actually care about their language, because culture is language.

[00:25:56] Language is a very integral part of people’s identity. It’s so funny to see people try to speak in language. So it is a beautiful icebreaker type thing to, um, to use in, um, when you are working with these young people. 

[00:26:15] Amanda: I love that, and, um, something you mentioned earlier as well with family members on your Aboriginal side too, is that there might be, do you find that there might be some young people that aren’t actually looking to reconnect with their culture at this moment too, and do we need to be, I don’t know, mindful of that as well and just kind of Holding space for it all, I guess, and meeting them where they’re at and not forcing anything, I suppose.

[00:26:45] Not going in there, kind of, certainly not going in there suggesting we know more than them, or better than them, or any shoulding. 

[00:26:55] Louise: Yes, yes, no shooting, no shooting for sure. Um, but what I have found with my own experience is the only times that I wasn’t trying to connect with my culture is when I believed, I was convinced that it was bad or wrong.

[00:27:14] Because we, we do all try to be good, you know, in vertical quotations, you know, good people. Um, and The messages were constantly saying Aboriginal people are not good people, so why would I want to be investigating that further if that could mean to me in some way that I’m not a good person. So quite often not wanting to connect with culture in some way is linked with trauma, uh, and is linked with, uh, these social conditionings that That culture in some way is.

[00:27:56] Not okay. Okay. So showing an interest, asking the questions, it’s only going to be a positive thing, whether it’s something we kind of dive into in that moment or not, you know, having just one other person being interested in that for them asking those questions. Okay. And exploring other cultures. You don’t have to just focus on Aboriginal culture if you are with your young person and you are discussing difference in other cultures too and talking about the beauty from all different cultures.

[00:28:28] Oh, look at this beautiful thing that they do in this culture. Oh, look at this amazing ceremony. Oh, isn’t this so wonderful the way they do this? And really expressing that different cultures are valuable, important and beautiful can help. Their own internal dialogue start to think if all other cultures are beautiful, then maybe Aboriginal culture is beautiful too.

[00:28:53] So it’s that deconditioning that is going to start happening there. 

[00:28:59] Amanda: Sounds like something that we should be doing with any kind of groups of young people really is just exploring that heritage that anyone might be coming in with and, um, yeah, exploring all sorts of cultures. 

[00:29:15] Louise: Yeah, because you’ve certainly got a flattening that happens with culture in, um, you know, a Western style culture, because what happens is, You have so many different cultures that are considered Western cultures, but in reality, they are vastly different to each other.

[00:29:34] They have different languages. They have different meals and different types of food they have. They have different types of art and dance and ceremony and ways of entertaining and ways of connecting with each other. But yet, There are so many different cultures that have been combined and mashed together and flattened into one culture that’s called Western culture.

[00:29:59] And this is why there’s such a confusion over whether white people have a culture or not. Because it’s just been all mashed together in a big pot. Whereas if you can start to look with your young people and go, okay, Where, where are your family from? What are, what is the kind of things that they do? What are the quirky things that, um, they do in, in that culture?

[00:30:22] What are the serious things that they do in that culture? How do they, how do you, do they sit down for a meal? Or do they do things in a different way? All these different things can help young people identify back with. Who they are, who their family is and really, uh, have something that can support them and their identity and to return back to because as young people we feel so lost.

[00:30:48] We’re trying to work out who we are and how we fit in the world and when you have something like this. You know, this culture that’s just called Western culture, but no one can really define what that is. Knowing actually what your heritage is, and knowing some of the beautiful things that maybe your family has done, or contributed to, or has achieved, is something they can anchor them back to who they are, and remind them of who they are.

[00:31:14] So in those hard times, oh I’m feeling a bit emotional, in those hard times, they can return back to those beautiful things. Or they can have something that they know forms part of their story that makes them feel proud. So something that my, um, my husband had done recently is done a little bit of research on his own family.

[00:31:38] And what he found was, so, um, his heritage is Irish and he found out in his family, they were the first family to wear pants. In that space, and that’s something to be really proud of, and you know, it’s a little bit quirky and a little bit funny, uh, to do those kinds of things, but it’s amazing to learn about your family and go, you know, that’s part of me, that’s part of my story.

[00:32:08] And to know then, from here, I’m forming a new part of the story.

[00:32:17] And so if you’ve got something, some way to begin with, some origin to begin with, that’s before you were even born, you feel like a sense of responsibility or a sense of, uh, I guess determination maybe even, to make that story a good story while you’re walking it. So I think that’s really something great that young people can really ground into.

[00:32:46] Amanda: I’m just, I’m picturing someone kind of like a deflating balloon, almost like blowing in the wind and then getting that, that roots down that string, really connecting them to the earth and to the. Past lineage, and yeah, I love that. 

[00:33:02] Louise: Yeah, especially where in our society at the moment, if young people do something we disapprove of or seems antisocial to us, the way they are, I guess, punished or dealt with is through that exclusion. It is through isolation. It is through, uh, social alienation. All those kinds of things. Which can be really, really difficult. Something we actually do in our culture is that when people are having a hard time or having trouble, isolation is the furthest thing that we do to them.

[00:33:44] We pull them in. We remind them how loved they are. We remind them of their stories. We remind them of their achievements. We remind them of who they are in their soul.

[00:33:59] Because when They are doing things that are harmful to themselves or harmful to others. It’s really when they need that extra care and love and compassion and acceptance.

[00:34:12] Yeah. I 

[00:34:16] Amanda: guess they only act out in that way when they’re feeling disconnected already. Hey, they’re feeling isolated. Yeah. Oh, yes. How beautiful. Just that simple shift. It could make such a difference in the world, couldn’t it? Absolutely.

[00:34:33] Yeah. Something special. And to think of your story, just adding on to the stories that have come before you and the, it does give you a sense of responsibility of wanting to do it justice or yeah, absolutely.

[00:34:48] Louise: I always think to myself, I want to be good ancestor. Always, that’s something that really guides me.

[00:34:55] I want to be a good ancestor. I want my children, my children’s children, and so on and so on, to go, I’m so glad and grateful to Nana, Nana Louise, for doing this, for breaking this, this, this chain. for deciding to do things differently, to contributing to changing the story. Like, I want that. And so that’s something that really drives me is, I want to be good ancestor.

[00:35:28] So I do the stuff now to be that. 

[00:35:32] Amanda: It must be really hard sometimes. 

[00:35:34] Louise: It is. It is sometimes. Yeah. 

[00:35:40] Yeah. It’s extremely, um, it’s, it’s very taxing sometimes emotionally, physically, spiritually, all those kinds of things, uh, because of the level of acceptance of racism and discrimination there is in the country.

[00:35:56] And a lot of it is through things like dog whistles. Um, where a lot of people aren’t aware that people are being triggered in certain ways with certain words or phrases or actions, um, but we as Aboriginal people see them and feel them and know exactly what they’re trying to say to us. Um, and there’s also so much racism that’s happening that is just completely, uh, people just don’t know they’re doing it at all.

[00:36:30] Completely blind to, to what they’re actually doing. I’ll give a little bit of an example. Just recently we’ve had, um, January 26th, which a lot of, uh, Australians recognize And, um, we’ve had, um, January 26th, which a lot of Australians recognize us. Australia Day. Um, it’s certainly not Aboriginal communities, Australia Day.

[00:36:48] It is Invasion Day or Survival Day, but someone who thought they were in support of changing the date, um, of Australia Day to another day, mentioned that, I’d like to get The day changed so we can talk about more important topics like higher levels of, um, essay and, uh, in, in Aboriginal communities. And while it’s really important to talk about those kinds of things, so it is massive social issues.

[00:37:34] And we work out how we can stop these kinds of things happening to youth and to, uh, marginalized communities altogether. That person didn’t realize that They were framing it in a way that it was an Aboriginal issue and that it was only an Aboriginal issue. Whereas those kind of really big social issues, including things like alcoholism, domestic violence, substance abuse, all those kinds of things are not Aboriginal issues.

[00:38:09] They are human issues. They are societal issues. So if you are coming into a conversation and talking about an Aboriginal conversation, which was about, uh, Aboriginal rights, and which was about recognising Aboriginal experiences and recognising that the day is really quite horrific and traumatic. Um, an Aboriginal issue is the impacts of colonisation and that’s what we were talking about.

[00:38:36] But to bring in all human issues, and frame it as an Aboriginal issue is unbelievably offensive and racist and harmful to the community. So it’s something really important as social workers to recognise there are human issues and then there are specific marginalised issues. And the only issue that we have as Aboriginal people that is Uh, specifically, Aboriginal issue is impacts of colonisation.

[00:39:14] All those other social issues are human issues. Uh, so making sure we’re not framing it in a way that they are directly linked to a certain community. Because what that told a lot of people in that thread was That these are things perpetrated by Aboriginal people, to Aboriginal people, and while that is the case in some of those instances, that’s not the full story.

[00:39:44] It’s almost like cherry picking to go, I’m going to make your community look bad by cherry picking this one thing. So that was just.

[00:39:56] In all honesty, that was the most harmful thing that I experienced during this last round of conversations and debates around January 26th. So, it is important if you’re a mentor to be careful where you’re using your language because although the issues may be present in Aboriginal communities, they are not only present in Aboriginal communities.

[00:40:25] Amanda: Thanks for sharing that, Louise.

[00:40:28] And then as an add on to that too, recognising that if you are working with Aboriginal people or in Aboriginal communities, that in no way gives you a hall pass to talk about those issues, as if they are Aboriginal issues. And it does in no way. make you an expert in those things. So you still, you can’t talk with authority around those issues just because you work with Aboriginal people or Aboriginal communities.

[00:41:04] Yeah. That makes sense. If you’re not Aboriginal, don’t comment on issues that you can’t have any experience with. Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that because I feel like that even, um, makes me think about, uh, raise the age , you know, because it’s a youth issue, but it Torres Strait Islander community.

[00:41:29] And not for any other reason other than, like you said, the, the colonization of this country, you know, that’s the, the reason it impacts.

[00:41:40] Disproportionately 

[00:41:41] Louise: it’s been interesting. I’ve been having conversations around different types of oppressive structures. So you know, a lot of people recognize things like, uh, the patriarchy, uh, privilege system, um, capitalism, um, all those kinds of things.

[00:42:01] isms, really. Uh, but there, what I do want to share around this is there is an overarching oppression system. The overarching oppression system is white supremacy. All of those, um, oppressive systems that fall underneath that help us to have language and to talk about who they impact directly and who’s affected by it.

[00:42:34] It all stems from the same thing, that whole system, uh, is that white supremacy. And so if you can have a look at that and recognize that we have this overarching issue that no one benefits from, no one, it doesn’t actually work for anyone. It is a whole system of not enoughness. Because in that system, you will never be at the pinnacle.

[00:43:04] It is a hierarchical thing, but you can, you will never be at the pinnacle. Because no matter what kind of privilege you have based on it, the goal will always be moved. So you may not be thin enough. Your skin may not be white enough. You may not be living in the right area. You may not have, um, the right kind of income.

[00:43:29] You may not have the right job. You might not have the right hair colour. You know, body type, weight. All this stuff. You will never be enough. And that reaching for That pinnacle is harming every single person on the planet. This isn’t a liberation only of marginalized people. This is a liberation of all people.

[00:43:55] And what we need to do or recognize now is the reason we talk about marginalization and the fact that these systems impact greatly on these marginalized groups is because it affects them the most. So let’s give a hand to, as a form of friendship, as a form of connection, as a form of being in community with other people in our country or in the globe and go, I recognize you’re being impacted greatly at much greater levels than I am.

[00:44:34] Let’s change this thing. Because not only is that supporting and liberating those communities. It’s liberation of everyone, because it’s all tied in with each other, you’re interconnected. When you say, this is not enough, this is not good enough for this community of people, you’re also saying it’s not good enough for my community of people too.

[00:44:59] They’re not. Separate islands when it’s not disconnected in that way, we’re interconnected as humans and supporting one person’s human rights, um, and supporting one person to not be oppressed or one person to not be discriminated against is also contributing to yours.

[00:45:21] It’s just such a, um, it’s a tiny, I feel like it’s a tiny shift and also like a monumental shift to go from. Um, let’s look after everyone instead of let’s look after just. This group and not worry about the rest. Like if we just looked after everyone, then everyone’s going to be better off, right? Like, yeah.

[00:45:44] Yeah. But it comes with so much different energy. So there is like a difference between, so with the Black Lives Matters, right? So you have, uh, people focus on Black Lives Matters and then you have people who are in the All Lives Matters. So, people of Black Lives Matter recognize that this, we need to be focusing on this particular community of people because of what is actually being experienced by that community of people.

[00:46:10] Um, the energy of All Lives Matters is a way to discredit. Yes. That experience and, um, make sure it’s not validated. So you don’t want to be bringing that kind of energy to it. Um, the focus does need to be centred people, but you can know that it is also supporting everyone when you support marginalised people.

[00:46:37] Amanda: It can only really, it can only really support. Us individually, selfishly as humans, but also our own families, I imagine, and our own communities and then the young people that we work with by taking the time to do this kind of work, right? Like unpacking some of this stuff and acknowledging that even if you are quite high on that pinnacle of power and privilege, and especially if you are, you know, breaking all of that down, unlearning a lot of that stuff, um, understanding different perspectives, it’s just, it’s Going to be beneficial for ourselves as much as any of the beautiful young people that we get to work with, um, and hold such richer spaces.

[00:47:25] Hey, and spaces for actual transformation or not even transformation because they’re already perfect as they are, but. Um, conversation and connection amongst themselves too. 

[00:47:39] Louise: Absolutely. And that, um, that recognition of your own privilege and really unpacking that can also be a wonderful, uh, indicator to inform you of the kind of power and influence you have in our society or in your business or amongst your community.

[00:48:01] Because you can then choose. to harness and use that privilege and power in a way that creates positive change in those spaces, or you can continue to maintain the status quo and continue maintaining the structures at play. And it is absolutely your choice. how you do it. But knowing that privilege gives you, um, empowers you with the knowledge to go actually I do have some influence here, I do have some power here, how am I going to show up or use it in a way that actually makes the world a better place.

[00:48:39] Amanda: And it’s always, there’s always more, isn’t there? There’s always more, of course, to, to learn, to unlearn, to, um, to keep kind of, yeah, plugging away at trying to be better humans. 

[00:48:54] Louise: Yes. Cause it is a conversation and this is why we always say, you know, um, have the conversation, be part of the conversation because it’s going to keep evolving because something that was acceptable in the community or with young people, uh.

[00:49:10] A month ago or a year ago may not be okay anymore because we have realized, okay, where does that basis come from? What are the thought systems or ideologies behind those things? And then we recognize, go, Oh, actually, no, this is harmful to our community. So we are moving it and it’s going to keep moving.

[00:49:32] And it’s beautiful that it keeps moving, that we’re not just setting something in place and going, okay, done, dusted. We’re done with this. This particular thing. We are going to keep growing and evolving through that, um, so keeping your, uh, finger on the pulse of all these social issues is going to be, uh, very beneficial for your youth work and connecting with your young people because there are so many things, in particular with the young people, the youth at the moment, They are very invested in things like, um, the community, they’re very invested with human rights, they’re very invested with animal rights and the environment.

[00:50:11] So knowing what’s going on in the world is going to help you be able to connect on a deeper level with these youth. And it will also, um, gives you the opportunity to mentor them. Into showing up in the world in a meaningful way, something that’s really important and going to be impactful for them. So having an adult there to guide them on how to, uh, exist in a way that is really purposeful and meaningful to them.

[00:50:45] I cannot even express how important that is because as a young person, you just don’t know how to navigate. The world. And these young people are trying to change the world. They are trying to do things that we consider as adult things. And they do need our support to, to navigate and make sure it can, can go through and they can achieve some of those goals that they want to achieve.

[00:51:14] Amanda: They’re so freaking amazing. They just, they, they grapple. Yeah. They really grapple with this kind of stuff too. Like, yeah, everything, everything you shared. I’m sorry. Um, yeah, you can’t see me nodding along so much. Um, yeah, we just even Bumblehead. Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re just incredible. And, um, and it is always shifting and it’s why our youth mentor training just keeps expanding because there’s always more to learn about and more perspectives to consider.

[00:51:48] And, and if you’re not up with it, you know, or you’re not at least kind of opening up your own perspectives, there will be that disconnect. Um, between generations with the, with, with the youth of today, they’re just amazing. Like I had a conversation with, with some of, I meet with our teens a few times a week.

[00:52:08] And one of them, was scheduled to work on the 26th of January. She was like, Oh, I’ve just decided that. I need the money, so I’m going to work, but I’m going to donate the extra money that I would get because it’s a public holiday to my local Aboriginal organization.

[00:52:24] Like, that was just nothing for, for this 16 year old to just go, okay, this is how I’m going to kind of navigate this particular situation. Um, I just can’t imagine an, an. An older person even considering that necessarily or, um, yeah, they just surprise and delight and, um, yeah, teach so much every day to, um,

[00:52:48] Louise: the compassion is so natural. Yes. Yeah. It is so natural and it is almost like, um, it’s just. They expect it within themselves to be compassionate. And so they show up compassionately, like as if it’s nothing. It’s like, Oh yeah, of course. Why wouldn’t I do that?

[00:53:07] Amanda: Yeah. Just amazing. And the amount of classes that they ask for in our online academy that are advocacy based or activism based and the, um, the different things that they want to learn about.

[00:53:20] It just, yeah, it blows my mind and it doesn’t as well because it just feels like that’s what the world needs. As we continue on. 

[00:53:28] Louise: It’s amazing. They, youth are so, um, and it saddens me that people don’t listen to youth. In the Aboriginal community, youth and young people always have a seat at the table with us.

[00:53:46] Um, because what they have to offer is very valuable. Um, it’s insightful. Uh, and it will give us perspectives that we have either forgotten or we didn’t know about. So no matter what kind of community we have, um, meeting we have, youth are always included at the table to speak. And you might’ve even noticed this when we had the referendum for the voice.

[00:54:18] Part of the plans, uh, for the It, well, to start off the voice, because it was a structure that could be moulded and changed as needed. But part of the base one that was going to happen if it was approved, if it was a yes vote, was there was going to be youth as part of that voice, always. Though we’re never not going to be included in that.

[00:54:48] Um, that’s why with all our community meetings we have, youth are there. Youth get the mic and they get to speak. Uh, youth have a very important and vital role in our community. And we recognize them as very important people in our community. And we recognise every age group as very important in our community because every single age group and every type of experience offers something new and richer into our conversation, into our understanding, into our innovation and into our community as a, as, um, you know, just in general.

[00:55:26] So I would love for us to see the youth. Um, being taken seriously, um, and being included in conversations that, that involves them. So anything that includes conversations about people involves youth, youth and should involve youth. 

[00:55:50] Amanda: Yes. And co designing, co creating stuff with them rather than creating something for them.

[00:56:00] Yes. Of course, that, you know, nothing for us without us kind of. I think, yeah, it works for young people too, hey. 

[00:56:08] Absolutely. Yeah. Oh, thank you so much, Louise. It’s been so, so special. Um, yeah, so special. So

[00:56:20] beautiful and deep and rich and amazing to get to chat with you today. Such an honor, such a privilege. Um, I feel really, really grateful. So that you shared so much of your wisdom with us today. 

[00:56:33] Louise: Thank you so much for the invitation. It has been a wonderful speaking with you and wonderful talking with your listeners and I hope that each of your listeners have Got some golden gems out of that and it’s really got, um, a lot to get, go away with to connect with the young people, to connect with the Aboriginal community.

[00:56:59] It really, really is so beautiful. And sometimes we just need a little, uh, reminder or sometimes we might need to understand a new concept to really deepen our youth work and really connect in the most beautiful, wonderful, magical ways. 

[00:57:16] Amanda: Yes, I think you’ve definitely given us that gift today. Um, how can people find you and connect with you and deepen their experience with you?

[00:57:28] Louise: You can definitely find me on Facebook and on Instagram and on TikTok. So you’ll find me, Louise O’Reilly, on each of those. Uh, just look for the picture with the pink hair. That’s me. Um, and you can also connect with me, um, through my website, louiseoreilly. com. au. Just jump on and say hi. Um, I have so many free resources available.

[00:57:53] I had, I do a lot of content. So jump in, check out some of that content. Um, and I hope you find it hugely valuable. Yay. Um, all I can picture now is O’Reilly and the pants.

[00:58:13] Yes. Yes. The pantaloons. So good. Oh, thanks. You’re so welcome.


[00:58:23] Ah, how good was that? I love the idea of striving to be a really good ancestor. So here’s two here’s to being good ancestors for the next generations as well. Um, I know I mentioned it a couple of times during this episode, but please do check out Louise’s inclusion, creators, collective I’ll pop a link in the show notes for that. Um, because it’s fantastic. 

[00:58:46] There are lots of flexible options to join as well. It’s not very expensive and there are lots of really great classes in there and then a wonderful community to be, um, continuing to learn with and, and connect with it’s. Yeah, it’s a beautiful, it’s a beautiful space to be in. Uh, we are also about to launch a pocket mentor course. 

[00:59:05] I haven’t mentioned this, uh, anywhere yet, so. Um, you’re the first to hear about it. A pocket mentor course. It’s going to give any adults who have a teen in their world, some mentoring skills to keep in their back pocket. Uh, so stay tuned for that. It will include the latest insights on what’s going on for teens, how to support teams through challenging situations. Uh, you know, when they might need a little more support and more so just, um, yeah, some really. Fast impactful classes and some resources to help anyone. . Improve their mentoring skills, no matter what they’re doing. Um, so it’s more for people that aren’t looking to be a mentor in their business necessarily, or to do it as a career, but just would love to learn some skills to be, um, to be a better support for any young people around them. Um, leave me a comment. 

[00:59:54] If you’re interested in this or send me an email info@shinefromwithin.com today, you, and we’ll make sure that you’re the first to know about that. And please do comment. Um, Here as well. Um, wherever you’re listening to this podcast. Um, let me know what you loved about this episode, what some of your takeaways are from Louise. 

[01:00:12] So I’d love to share those, those with her too. And, um, I might see your over. In Instagram land as well, which is where Louise spends a lot of time too. All right. Talk to you soon. Thanks for listening. 

Mentioned in this episode:

Subscribe on iTunes  |  Find on SpotifyView All

We acknowledge and pay respects to the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we run our workshops and business.

We welcome students of all social, cultural, community and family backgrounds, and of all identities, and all abilities. Shine from Within is LGBTQIA+ friendly. Read our complete commitment to our social and environmental impact here.

Shine From Within® and Shine On The Inside® are registered trademarks of Amanda Rootsey T/A Shine From Within ABN 79216354231