98. Alinta Waitairie

27 Nov

Alinta Waitairie has a quiet strength, advocating for further cultural learnings through dance, art, and public speaking to promote broader Indigenous understanding.

Alinta was born on Wurundjeri land, and her father was from Yindjibarndi Tribe of Western Australia. Alinta is proud of her heritage and has built a career furthering cultural understanding.

Since the age of nine, Alinta has been a passionate dancer and now works dancing and speaking at corporate and community events, she has danced to open events at local schools, festivals, Banyule City Council and the Melbourne Convention Centre. For the past year Alinta has been running her own dance business – Morningstar Performing.

“I love working in the arts, community, culture, dance, nature and helping people… I feel connected through culture when I perform cultural dance, yarning with mob, being on the Banyule City Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee to help Barrbunin Beek Aboriginal Gathering Place where mob can come together as a community.

“I’ve been professionally dancing since the age of nine, and I’ve also been public speaking in Culture Services of Acknowledgement to Country at many levels.”

It all started for Alinta at the Northern Colleague of Arts and Technology, where she worked on a project to teach literature through sports, a very interesting concept.

The project entailed teaching kid’s literature through basketball in the Olympic Village, which is where Alinta first met staff member Liz from Banyule Community Health.

From here, she participated in many Banyule Community Health events as a young aboriginal leader and that’s where Alinta was introduced to Banyule’s Inclusive Employment Program.

“[Liz] mentioned there was an Inclusive Employment Program at Banyule City Council and Jess Sayers from Banyule Youth Service also encouraged me to go for it … and after having cared for my dad for the past year and half I went into the program,” she said.

The Banyule Inclusive Employment Program aims to remove any barrier that marginalised and indigenous people face when searching for employment, providing work experience in local government.

This program helped Alinta understand her potential work opportunities and pushed her towards a future career path outside her wildest imagination.

“[through the program] I was an Aboriginal Program Support Officer in the Community, in the Inclusive Planning Team with Banyule City Council,” Alinta said.

“It was great because I was able to get some work experience behind me.

“I was able to engage with other young people and indigenous mob, through food shares, and doing programs like NAIDOC week.

“During that time, we did a lot of workshops on how to do a resume, cover letter, and what kind of skills we had behind us, and to improve them and to know our weaknesses.”

Les my supervisor during my time at Banyule Inclusive Employment Program had told Alinta that there was another program that offered full-time work and a Diploma of Business for 2 years at the University of Melbourne … and I just signed up for it and I went for the interviews.

Alinta was successful in her application to the Melbourne Indigenous Professional Employment Program (MIPEP) at the University of Melbourne, where she now continues to gain extra skills, experience, and education. 

Sadly, Alinta’s father, who played an integral role in her life, had inspired her, and taught her about her culture, passed away at the start of 2022 – she had cared for him for over two years.  

After his passing, she saw the value in the (MIPEP) she had been successful at applying and decided to keep going with full-time work and the Diploma of Business – and not give up.  

“Now, I’m studying a Diploma of Business and working at the University of Melbourne in full-time work as a Global Learning Officer.”

Alinta has also been helping at Barrbunin Beek Aboriginal Gathering place where mob across indigenous communities are able to come together as one to teach culture through dance, storytelling, music, and yarn; something she is very proud of.

Alinta has great aspirations for her life post university; she aims to complete a bachelor’s degree, travel the world and to learn more about other places while expanding her knowledge of international cultures.

One day Alinta would like to be the Chairperson at Banyule City Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee to make Barrbunin Beek Aboriginal Gathering place a success for mob, and then be the CEO at Banyule City Council. And when settling into semi-retirement she would like to teach culture to mob and everyone else in the community.

With her will power and shear dedication, it’s only a matter of time that Alinta does all she sets out to do – watch this space! For Alinta, the sky’s the limit – “I’d like to be a great elder like my father was and make him proud.”

Words: Curtis Baines

Photography: Darcy Scales

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