Gloucester's Brianna Martin came across the Heywire competition in the Gloucester High School library and thought, “I’ve had some interesting things happen in my life,” so she started to write them down.
She wrote three separate stories about her journey to discovering she had Aboriginal ancestry, then took them to teacher, Anne Andrews to see if they were any good. Ms Andrews encouraged her to enter the competition and as a result, she won for the Mid North Coast region.
Her stories retold how she found out she was part Aboriginal when in year six.
Brianna said it wasn’t something that her Dad spoke about, so it wasn’t until she was taken to an Aboriginal dance class at Gloucester Public School that she began to uncover her family history.
She had attended a different school, where she hadn’t been listed as Aboriginal and it wasn’t until her parents enrolled her in Gloucester that her father ticked the box.
“Dad didn’t talk about it because Nan didn’t talk about it,” she explained.
“Dad was bullied at school about it.”
But Brianna embraced her heritage and started to get involved in cultural activities. Earlier this year, she was invited to be a part of a bicentennial event in England, where her dot/brush paintings combining her European and Aboriginal heritage were on display.
The Heywire is run by the ABC annually as a storytelling competition, open to people aged 16-22, living in regional or rural Australia. As part of Brianna’s prize, she will be attending the Regional Youth Summit from February 3-9 in Canberra with other winners from around Australia.
She said part of the summit involves working collaboratively with the others about issue that affect the communities they live in. Brianna will be eligible to apply for a grant of up to $10,000 to help hold an event or start up a service in Gloucester.
She has been asking people in the community about what Gloucester needs and suggestions so far include a women’s refuge, support service for people who return from service overseas or internet for education purposes for people in remote communities.