Host: Myroodah Station
Written by Chris Daniell – Manager, Myroodah Station.
As far back as I can recall I have had the pleasure of growing up in the Australian bush, more commonly referred to as “Outback Australia” by our city dwelling cousins. An environment full of hard-working people with common goals and a purpose in life. Everywhere I looked as a young boy I saw indigenous role models before me, going to work in some of the harshest conditions this country can throw at you and taking it all in their stride.
It is only now in my early forty’s that I fully appreciate the foundations they laid down for me to build on. From my parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts I learnt about respect for elders and the importance of a good education. I was not alone in this environment, every cattle station we lived and worked on had a large aboriginal workforce with lots of young kids my age seeing their fathers and mothers go off to work every day and they all had a purpose in life, a reason to get out of bed.
Thirty years on and you see a totally different scenario. Why such a big change in such a short time?
Most of the men in the stock camps working for my father in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s have either passed away or have drug and alcohol problems. I have memories of these same men in their prime, fit, athletic and full of pride. I looked up to all of them. They taught me so much about the land and how to survive in this unforgiving environment. They had everything they needed – a job and more importantly surrounded by family. As for their children who would now be in their forties, I only know of one family who still have some connection to the bush way of life.
It has become too easy to get money through the welfare system and is one of the main reasons for the lack of respect towards aboriginal elders and law. Three years ago I was struggling to find a purpose to get out of bed. I can only imagine how it feels for people with depression to try and get through the day just to go through it again tomorrow.
I needed to find a reason to get out of bed and a reason to continue in the cattle industry. I made a commitment to myself to do all I can to provide opportunities for fellow aboriginal people. This decision led me along with my young family to my current role as manager of an indigenous training cattle station in the Kimberley. Something I never saw myself doing three years earlier. How life can change!
I now had the opportunity to pass on what knowledge I have and provide an environment for young aboriginal people to prosper. This environment comes packed with strict guidelines and plenty of support. I make no apologies for raising the bar and challenging these young men and women, it is the least I can do. To see them rise to the occasion and follow in their grandfathers footsteps gives me great satisfaction.
I have seen first-hand what their forefathers were capable of. They deserve respect, the last thing they need is a hand out. I have a great support crew around me, from my wife Pam, little offsiders Will and Sam and all my staff at Myroodah and within the Indigenous Land Corporation, there is no way this could be done alone.