They are the next generation of Aboriginal leaders in Port Macquarie. Meet 15 year-old Noah Binge, 17 year-old Jamarra Moran and 12-year-old Kaiya O’Brien, participants of the Bush to Beach Program in Port Macquarie and Wauchope. The program initiated by Charlie Maher uses running to improve the lives of its participants and involves an exchange with the Northern Territory community, Ntaria. The Port Macquarie News sat down with Noah, Jamarra and Kaiya and asked them their thoughts on a range of topics. This is their story in their own words.
Noah Binge, 15-years-old
What is your origin? I am from Toowoomba in Queensland. I moved to Port Macquarie for family reasons. I am a descendent of the Mandandanyi and Gamilaraay nations.
How did you get involved in the Bush to Beach program? I go to Hastings Secondary College Port campus where I met Charlie Maher. He helped me get into running. He has given us a lot of leadership skills and helped me to come out of my shell. I used to be really shy. I wouldn't put up my hand and go and do anything. He has helped me get out. I've done plenty of running festivals including running 14km in budgie smugglers.
What are your passions? I'm passionate about running. It keeps you fit and helps your mind too. You might have a bad day but then you go out and run and get things off your mind. It teaches you strength and to go at your own pace.
What do you dislike? School work
What do you want to do when you grow up? I want to do what Charlie does, do the marathon, come back into the community, do a running group, help make a difference in the community
What does it mean to be Aboriginal?: I am really proud. I was taught about my culture from my grandparents in Queensland.
If you were PM for a day what would you do? I would focus on education, some public schools don't have much technology and science stuff. I would put more money towards public schools
What do young people struggle with? Some people struggle with getting out more as more people are getting shy and getting stuck on playing games. When I was young I had to help out a lot with my family so I wouldn't get to go out. My father left before I was born. Charlie has been a mentor and father figure for me. Charlie sees us as family.
Kaiya O'Brien, 12-years-old
What is your origin? I am a proud descendant of the Birpai and Dunghutti nations.
What are your passions? I love running and I love hanging out with my friends. it takes my mind off everything that is happening. The longest I have run is 10km.
What do you dislike? Early morning starts.
What do you want to do when you grow up? I love animals so something involving animals.
What does it mean to be Aboriginal? I feel we have a responsibility to represent our generation.
Jamarra Moran, 17-years-old
What is your origin? Descendant of the Birpai and Nganyaywana nations.
What are your passions? Rugby and running. I love breathing in the air when I'm running. It gives me the space to think. I just started working as a carpenter.
What do you want to do when you grow up? A carpenter and runner
What does it mean to be Aboriginal? Pretty much believing my own culture, keeping connection with what I have and still receive and what I actually learnt.
If you were PM for a day what would you do? Address deaths in custody. Last year my sister lost her partner who was killed while he was prison. My nephew is four years old and I do the best I can to make his life enjoyable. I try and see them as much as possible so I can keep him happy.
What do young people struggle with? Most people struggle with their image and they are scared what people are going to say about them. They feel limited because of things in their past. I struggle with self determination….believing in myself that I can do things when I can't like when I'm playing football.
Who is your greatest role model? Charlie is a role model because when I saw a film about him it gave me butterflies in my stomach. I'm hoping to achieve a leadership role like him in the future.
Bush to beach project fundraiser
The Port Macquarie Running Festival is happening over the weekend and as part of the event there will be a fundraiser to support the important work of the Bush to Beach project. Olympians Nova Peris, Steve Monaghetti and Robert de Castella will among the guest speakers. For tickets click here.