St Clare’s student’s TV journey ‘on the edge’
St Clare's student, Courtney, features in 'On The Edge'
The cast with teachers, Fran Dobbie (left) and Alec Domadgee (right)
Courtney, an Indigenous student from St Clare’s Catholic High, Hassall Grove, has featured in a reality TV series, On The Edge which is about life growing up as an Indigenous teen in Sydney’s western suburbs.
The 13 part series follows a group of young Indigenous teenagers from western Sydney over a period of two months as they take a physical, emotional and spiritual journey to discover who they are.
The series was produced by Fran Dobbie, an Indigenous woman from the Yuin people and former teacher from the Parramatta diocese, to broaden the impact of the work she was already doing with troubled urban Indigenous youth. In her roles as an educator, author and mother of two sons she was acutely aware of the issues confronting young people and the urgent need to assist and equip these young people with personal tools - tools to create inner strength and bring awareness of a better understanding of themselves.
Fran said she wanted to make an inspirational series that young Aboriginal people could identify with.
‘I wanted to create a program that changes lives and gives hope and healing for many families,’ said Fran. ‘I wanted to bring about an awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture. These teenagers reflected for me, many millions of young people, struggling and dealing with challenging issues in their lives such as abandonment, bullying, drugs and depression,’ she said.
The series takes the viewer on a journey of 12 teenagers learning more about their culture while dealing with everyday life and learning how they can deal with issues confronting them to become healthier within themselves. Under the guidance of specialist teachers, Fran (Dobbie) and Alec Domadgee, the teens are faced with overcoming their fears and life challenges. From teen bullying to tackling confidence and identity, each episode touches on issues every Australian parent needs to understand.
Fran said that Courtney provided really valuable input to the documentary.
‘At first she wasn’t very accepting of the aboriginal people because of things she had experienced in her past but she confidently shared her opinions as to why, and as time went on she learnt that not everyone should be judged by one incident or race of people,’ said Fran. ‘Courtney showed a lot of courage when dealing with another girl’s immediate dislike of her. Many kids are confronted with this type of bullying and it was interesting to see Courtney’s reaction, as the youngest person in the series.’
Each week the series features Indigenous role models such as songstress Jessica Mauboy, Aboriginal comedian Sean Choolburra, and Australia’s own super-middleweight champion boxer Anthony Mundine who shared their experiences and empowered the young people to resist the pitfalls of peer pressure and bullying.
The group went on excursions where the teens were exposed to experiences that were intended to widen their perception of their place in the world.
Courtney said she was hesitant about being involved in the program at first but looking back on it she would do it all over again.
‘I don’t really feel connected at all to my Indigenous heritage,’ said Courtney. ‘Before the series I actually felt a bit negative towards the Aboriginal culture from my past experiences, but during the series I met Indigenous people who have achieved things in their life and are good role models for young Aboriginal people,’ she said. ‘The one I felt most inspired by was an elder of an Aboriginal community, Auntie Lila. She was old, but you could see she had lived a rich and fulfilling life.’
‘I enjoy learning about history in general and have always found it interesting but I think I have a long way to go before I am ready to delve into my own family’s story and connect with my Indigenous heritage. I am a bit more curious though.’
Fran Dobbie is currently working with Catholic Education’s Jarara Indigenous unit and mentors Indigenous students with their studies. She also worked at St Matthew’s Primary, Windsor and Mary Immaculate Primary, Quaker’s Hills. She was also the founder and CEO of a young peoples’ charity that delivered workshops in primary and secondary schools to build resilience and self esteem.
On the Edge is aired on NITV (National Indigenous Television) on Foxtel, Sundays at 7.30pm.
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