After a tragic incident in Kowanyama earlier this year, Indigenous interns from the Commonwealth Bank’s CareerTrackers Intern Programme have raised money to support the Kowanyama community.
Interns were led by their manager Kyle, a Koko-Berra man who grew up in Cairns though now lives in Sydney where he works as an Indigenous Careers Acquisition Consultant for Commonwealth Bank.
After Kyle heard about the Kowanyama tragedy he wanted to return to his family in the Cape, some of whom were flown to hospital with severe injuries from the incident. Unfortunately, due to work commitments in other Indigenous communities Kyle could not return to Cairns or Kowanyama to support his family at this difficult time.
Reflecting on what was going through his mind when he heard about the incident, Kyle said, “I saw the news about the incident in Kowanyama on Facebook first, so then I called my Uncle who is up there as asked him what’s going on and if any of our family were there. He said that some of our family were in the house when it happened and they have been flown to hospital in Cairns and Townsville.
“I wanted to go up there and help but I couldn’t because I had some work to do with Indigenous communities and I didn’t want to let them down, so I decided to help by raising funds.”
Apunipima Cape York Health Council were assisting with the injured after the incident. Apunipima put Kyle in touch with Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council who spoke with Kyle about raising funds.
Kyle explained that, “We agreed that the funds raised would go towards building a memorial and help cover costs for the families. When discussing the idea of the community project the Shire Council thought it would be important to make that area a happy place again so maybe they will build a child playground or something as a memorial.”
The project was put to the interns and they came up with the idea to hold a fundraiser event. The event celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and gave the attendees a chance to win prizes through a raffle and silent auction.
The interns succeeded in securing a range of donated prizes, as well as some entertainment for the event.
One of the highlights of the raffle was a jersey donated by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) which was signed by the 2016 Wallabies team. Gym franchise Anytime Fitness donated a three month membership which was also raffled off.
The Commonwealth Bank donated a range of cricket memorabilia, including two signed bats. Life Wear also donated some of their garments for the raffle.
Indigenous artist Aunty Bibi Barba donated a painting which successfully raised money through the silent auction.
The CBA CareerTrackers Indigenous Interns also organised a cultural aspect to the event with a few different performances and speakers. The proceedings, included a lesson in language and dance by Tribal Warrior, a not-for-profit Indigenous organisation initiated and directed by Aboriginal people with Aboriginal Elders in Sydney. Two of the interns, Seraphina Lauenstein a Wuthathi women (Cape York, Shelburne Bay) and Jonah Johnson Wiradjuri man (Three ways mission, Griffith), were the MCs for the night.
Other performances included dances by the Butterfly Dancers – a Sydney based Indigenous dance group, as well as a digeridoo performance by one of the interns.
As a thank you to the groups who donated the prizes, the interns donated their time back to Tribal Warrior where they did some community service activities, including boat maintenance, a boxing class, and some language classes.
Altogether $5230 was raised which was donated to Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council for a memorial to be placed at the site as well as to offer support the affected families.