My dream was to just get a job, and live like every other person, eat like every other person, sleep like every other person. And now I have made it way beyond that.
Haidarr Jones is a student at Flinders University studying Bachelor of Media (Creative Arts). He is part of the CareerTrackers Indigenous Internship Program and interns with ThoughtWorks, a global IT consultancy business.
The following speech was delivered by Haidarr at the CareerTrackers Gala Dinner held at The Westin on 30 January 2014.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
First of all I just want to thank the CareerTrackers Board for giving me the privilege of being up here to share my story. It truly is an honour.
My name is Haidarr Jones. Let me first tell you about my childhood. My mother is Aboriginal from Queensland. I am the middle child of four brothers and sisters & I have never met my father.
While, growing up I lived in the worst areas of just about every town you could think of. I stopped counting when I moved to Bathurst which was about the 20th place I’d lived by the age of 15.
My family never had a stable home to live in, because we were constantly moving from women’s shelters to public housing to women’s shelters.
As a result, I never had any friends and was constantly faced with drug addicted people, domestic violence and people that were involved in crimes.
At 15, I actually learnt how to dream. I learnt how to think about what was possible and to stop accepting that my mum, brother and sisters made poor choices.
I couldn’t be around those kind of situations so at 15 I ran away to find a dream and live a dream.
I lived in several diferent youth homeless centres but still made it to school everyday.
These were places where I got kicked out every day from 8am and couldn’t return until 5pm. Everyday I took my bag which had everything I owned and went to class.
I couldn’t sleep in. I couldn’t play games. I had to get myself out of this situation, by myself.
Despite trying, I failed Year 10 & Year 11. Year 12 was when I started to live my dream. I studied everyday and ended year 12 passing all classes with A’s & B’s.
In year 12 I learnt that I had to be diligent about what I want. I had to apply myself. I had to motivate myself. I had to do it for myself by myself and then I will be able to live out my dream, which back then was just to get a job.
I was really lucky enough to get a place at Flinders University in Adelaide, where I study a Bachelor of Media (Creative Arts). At University I’ve done great things, things that I have never done before. I started getting involved and became a leader. For example, I am the President of the new Flinders Indigenous Student Association & this year I am the Indigenous Officer of the Campus Student Council. After my first 2 semesters I ended the year with a Distinction average.
I completed an internship. And the funny thing is that… I did all of this while I was living at a youth homeless shelter by myself for the past 12 months.
So what I want everyone to learn from my journey is that: There is always a person who has lived in worse situations and come further and I’m not talking about me. I have seen so many other people live tough lives but have a great future ahead of them.
Every week I see people unhappy with the way they are. So many people talk about their issues. You just don’t know how many others have had it much worse.
You have to realise your potential. Look, if I made it to where I am at right now with my resources, imagine what you can do with your resources.
My dream was to just get a job, and live like every other person, eat like every other person, sleep like every other person. And now I have made it way beyond that. Today I have an awesome internship with such a supportive team. Next semester I will be moving into the residential college where I can’t wait to get 3 meals a day! I can’t wait to have a steady roof over my head where I can leave my things when I go to class everyday.
But I know I still have so far to go.
I want to say thanks to ThoughtWorks for giving me this amazing chance.
And thanks to everyone here for supporting us interns.
I think we all need to realise that we can do more, take advantage of the opportunities and count our blessings for everything that we have.
And to my fellow interns – Go back to work and show the true potential of one Aboriginal person; – Go back to Uni and achieve the unachievable; – Go back to your home or community and be a role model.
Thank you all for listening to my story.
CareerTrackers is a national non-profit organisation that works with Indigenous university students and private sector companies to create career pathways through a structured internship program. At present, it has 630 students in the program and is working with 75 Corporate Partners. www.careertrackers.org.au