Images by Kate Weier
We sat with Amy Domadgee to chat about her idea around the Revolution Collective, a new organisation born out of a conversation with Lizzy and her a few years back. The Revolution Collective (TRC) project will begin in 2021, a program driven to empower First Nations women and to create a sustainable future. Amy’s idea will create a social enterprise which is an educational and purposeful program for the remote Indigenous people of Doomadgee, with the first project being an introduction to pattern making and sewing using Spell fabric, to foster not only a creative hobby, but potentially create a business for the community. Amy shares with us below a little bit of her story learning about the amazing culture of her now First Nations family, and the inspiration behind TRC. We will be working with Amy on a couple of exciting projects next year, so stay tuned!
I have spent the past few weeks contemplating what I’m going to share in this blog – which part of the story. What I “should” and “shouldn’t” share. Occasionally, fear reared its head to tell me I’m going to offend someone, it’s not going to be ok for someone and it’s going to be too much for others. Each time I landed back in the same place of knowing, that sometimes it takes sitting in the uncomfortable, to create positive change. The purpose of this share, is to give insight into the story behind The Revolution Collective and how it came to fruition. But first, before I go further, I want to make it very clear that I am not here to speak for or on behalf of our First Nations people – I am writing from my experiences and from my heart. This is my truth.
I am a white woman married to a First Nations man, who is deeply entrenched in his lore and culture. Over the past 12 years I’ve been exposed to the incredible beauty of this culture & the incredible harshness. My world has been rattled, in the most extraordinarily beautiful and heart shattering ways.
When I met my husband Alec, I was young (22) and ignorant. I barely knew anything about “Aboriginal” culture and the First people of this country.
I fell deeply in love, quickly. My husband (30) was raising his 5 children on his own, plus his niece and nephew from his home community of Doomadgee. Not long into our relationship, Alec took the kids and I out for dinner to a local Brisbane restaurant. I happily and naively walked into the restaurant holding the kids hands, ready to enjoy a meal together. When we walked in, we waited where the sign read “please wait to be seated”. The waitress approached us in a stern manner and said they had no tables available. I looked at her confused, as there was barely another soul in the restaurant. I voiced this to her, to which she repeated that they had no tables available. My blood started to boil. I turned to Alec in shock and he said “come on, let’s go, we’re not welcome here”. I was baffled. This was my first experience of racism and the beginning of the end of the world, as I knew it.
I have many stories of racist treatment towards our children at school, towards my husband in his career, as an activist fighting on the frontline for his people and of racist treatment towards our family in shops, restaurants and in the general public. The stares are like a knife to the heart. The segregation. The inhumane laws for the “blacks” only. The family members lost in police custody. The panic I would and still go through, any time my husband and children are out and about, knowing the deep hatred towards our First Nations people is rife and real, and that many of the “protectors” are not there to protect them.
For many years I wondered what my purpose was in all of this and what I was going to do with all that I now knew. I could no longer sit and say nothing and do nothing. So I began to speak up. The more truth I spoke, the more “friends” and “family” I lost. But I am ok with that. I am ok, as it added fuel to my fire to create change.
People tend to be so fearful of the unknown. And particularly fearful when they are confronted with the reality of something as brutal and real, as racism in Australia. Many people have absolutely no idea that it even exists. And many are culprits of casual / systematic racism and are completely oblivious to it. My husband taught me the power of knowledge. The more knowledge you have, the more understanding you’ll have. The more understanding you have, the more compassion you’ll have. And the more compassion you have, the more you’ll see what needs to be done, to create change.
The oppression and inter-generational trauma runs deep in our First Nations Communities. After losing one too many to suicide, I decided I would attempt to use my white privilege to make a difference. White privilege is real – it needs to be owned and spoken about.
From the conversations I’ve had with many First Nations women, they do not want to be “saved”. They do not want charity or hand outs. They want equal opportunities. But they also don’t want to have to leave their communities, their families and their country, to follow their dreams or to be able to earn a decent income. In most remote communities, jobs are far and few between, let alone opportunities to explore passions and dreams.
In 2017 Lizzy emailed me asking if I knew of any charities that would take old stock and remnant fabric, to which I didn’t. She asked me because she knew I had connections to the community of Doomadgee. Lizzy’s request was one of the catalysts that led me to create a social enterprise, The Revolution Collective.
When my husbands’ International Award Winning Documentary “Zach’s Ceremony” went around the world Film Festival circuit in 2016, we were asked the same questions repeatedly – “what can we do, to make a difference?”, “how can we get involved?”, “what is the answer to these problems?”… I certainly don’t claim to have all of the answers, but I may have just one, one that could save lives. And that for me, is a good place to start.
In the new year, as we prepare to officially launch, we will share more with you. We are excited to create a community of Indigenous and non-indigenous people, to come on this journey and to start a Revolution with us.
My personal mission is to gracefully and respectfully represent honourable celebration of First Nations women, their essence, their truth, their dreams, their traditions, their history and their stories. And to create a solid launch pad, for their take off!
This photoshoot took place on the tribal lands of the Jagera, Giabal and Jarowair people. Jibardi’s (women) Delray George, Demi Doomadgee & Brooklyn Doomadgee are ceremony women, who come from the Waanyi, Gangalidda and Garawa tribes in The Gulf of Carpentaria. These young women now reside in South East QLD and are working hard to achieve their dreams. They have donated their time to this social enterprise and hold a strong belief that it will empower their sisters, cousins, mothers and aunties in the remote communities of the Gulf Country.
With love to Amy Doomadgee from The Revolution Collective x