Celebrating milestones

Last week I got to speak for a few minutes at a dinner called ‘Leaders for Positive Change’ organised by MFO (Multicultural Families Organisation) at Carrara Sports & Leisure Centre, Gold Coast. There were other inspirational speakers that night, including D/Inspector Marc Hogan – (QPS DV Taskforce) and Cornellia Babbage, Director of MFO who shared some of their visions for a safer Gold Coast and why they are passionate about this work. Our host for the evening was Kevin Dando who kept us smiling and engaged in a night of celebrating locals who work in the space of ending domestic and family violence. I always come away from these events uplifted by the commitment and will of these people to help end violence in their communities. The network of support is huge but there is still so much work to do, and so many resources needed to keep this work going.

Speaking at Leaders for Positive Change dinner, Carrara Gold Coast.

The week before, I was invited to attend the Medal Reveal at the Star Casino on the Gold Coast. I was so excited to attend because I’ve met artist Delvene Cockatoo-Collins, the medal designer, a few times and consider her a wonderful friend and colleague. Delvene is an incredible artist, drawing on her environment and heritage as a Nunukal, Ngugi and Goenpul woman (Quandamooka, Minjerribah-North Stradbroke). It was another star studded night, with Olympic and Commonwealth champions Anna Meares and Sally Pearson speaking about what it means to represent their countries and wear these medals. The medals are truly beautiful and I’m so honoured that I got to hug Delvene’s mum, be part of the first to view these medals and to celebrate such a great achievement for this kind and generous woman.

‘Sand Country’ – the soft sand lines which shift with every tide and wave is symbolic of athletic achievement. As the water moves toward low tide, each wave moves the sand, creating and leaving behind new lines in the sand witnessed by those present. The ribbon is the woven strand of the fresh water reed called ‘yungair’ and are three reeds woven together to form a pattern which resembles many triangles woven together.

Beautiful medals for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Designed by Queensland artist, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins.

To finish the week off, we celebrated our eldest son’s Yr12 graduation and formal. I didn’t expect to be so emotional about it, I was more relieved that high school runs were over for at least one year! I realise now how special this milestone is, for Malik and for our family. I’m so happy that he made it and I’m excited for the next learning journey for his life. My parents flew over from Samoa to be part of this, which made it even more special. He is the eldest grandchild on my side to go through this schooling system and to graduate with a Yr12 certificate. What he does with this knowledge and learning is up to him and we will be by his side for the next part.

Malik was asked to give the Valedictorian speech, which I understood was a big deal, but again, I didn’t quite comprehend how special this was. He gave it one last edit the night before with his dad. Fortunately for us, we have some experience in public speaking and giving speeches so it was lovely watching Mark and Malik work together on his last piece of work for Yr12. Sunson, as we affectionately call him, did a stellar job. He spoke from his heart, acknowledged his family and spoke to his Yr12 cohort as if they were his family, his brothers and sisters. Despite having a few microphone issues, he spoke so well, wishing his graduating class of 2017 happiness and success and spoke lovingly of his girlfriend and his close peeps who held him close when he needed it. He finished with an inspirational quote by none other than Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk than crawl. Whatever you do, keep moving forward.”

Sunson, Malik, with his Yr12 Co-ordinator Joely Dowsett. So proud of him!

I loved that Malik spoke to everyone, not just personal stories that only a few people would get, but to those he knew closely and those he never spoke a word to. He spoke of the thing that brings us together, whatever the journey and story over the last few years, the thing that unites them is making it to the finish line of this journey.

And who can forget this incredible vote of YES for same sex marriages! This means so much to so many Australian families. I am so proud that we took this opportunity to tell our gay and lesbian community that we love them and want happiness for them too. Go Us!

These last few weeks have been about celebrating our achievements, that has been my point of connection with others. I don’t understand fully the work of everyone in my community, I just know that it’s important and that we’re all trying to do our best with what we have. As we gear up for end of year parties, final exams and assessments, the end of one journey and the beginning of another, I reflect on how it’s important to celebrate reaching these milestones. Some of us fly through them, some of us struggle big time, but how ever we journey through them, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate them. Find someone today or this week and tell them they are doing great and that you acknowledge their achievements. Thank them for what they are contributing to their communities and don’t forget to do the same to yourself.

Thank you for all that you do for your families and communities to keep them safe, strong and kind, have a blessed week!

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The One Million Stars project acknowledges the traditional owners and continuing custodians of the lands and waters where we weave, live and play. We give our respect to elders past, present and emerging.


THANK YOU to everyone who helped to make the 2018 One Million Stars installation a reality. We did it! And it was BEAUTIFUL & POWERFUL!

The One Million Stars to End Violence project continues and is an ongoing international weaving movement created in 2012 by Pasifika weaving artist and entrepreneur, Maryann Talia Pau.

We understand this project has had a powerful impact for some people. For emotional and physical support, please speak with someone you trust or seek professional advice. You are important!

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