Many young Aussies from diverse backgrounds are doing amazing stuff in their lives. In celebration, Cocktail Revolution™ is going to share activities in the life of one of you each month! If you know someone who is a terrific role model, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month, we celebrate Todd James Fernando from Sydney who is an advocate for Indigenous Affairs, Equality and Youth Advancement. With a background in Aboriginal Health and education, Todd is currently:
♦ Sustainability Coordinator for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE)
♦ National Kinship Mentor and Camp Facilitator for The Aspiration Initiative (TAI)
♦ Co-convenor of the Congress Youth Lobbying Committee for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
Todd serves on many indigenous national and grass roots committees for advancing youth health, education, participation and engagement.
In his own words:
“I have been with TAI for 18 months, working with 120 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from NSW, Vic and WA. The program is about making these students realise their own potential to go beyond just finishing high school and university.
This program focuses on real life change for Indigenous students. These students are incredible and talented and have so many ideas about the future, TAI is a platform for them to talk about it and not feel judged or let down, if they believe it, we will support them.
I have always been a Lobbyist, it is something that as an Aboriginal man, I believe in. It strengthens me mentally and physically, because I know that I choose to fight for the rights for Indigenous people, young people and LGBTQI people. Basic human rights are sometimes taken granted and I believe that if we stand together to continue the conversation, we (which ever group you belong to) are not forgotten or left behind.
I have chosen to follow this path and get to where I am because what else can I do. I am not one to sit back and watch the world evolve, I would like to be part of the change and help contribute- I believe its something every person should do, because whether you are old or young, you are developing your future or you’ve cemented your past. You should be a part of the world around you- not let it pass you by.
I have just completed my post graduate studies at the Faculty of Medicine at University of Sydney. I remember one of my high school teachers who said, Todd, you should just drop out in year 10, you won’t be able to do anything with your life because you’re Indigenous.
Look at me now. I have gone on to complete post graduate studies, worked at National, state and local levels, lobbied governments and met and lobbied former PM Julia Gillard AND even had the opportunity to sit and talk about youth leadership with the Dalai Lama.
So from a guy that grew up with limited support from teachers- I think I’ve gone pretty darn far.
I am proud of who I am and where I come from and I think that is the motivation for me to go forth and do what ever it is I, or others need me to do. So I say to most people: here I am, use me use me use me”
Read more about Todd at about.me/toddfernando.