Feral deer on a foggy morning
Feral deer on a foggy morning in Raymond Terrace Published 17 May 2017. Raymond Terrace NSW 2324
Where the mountains meet the plains
Edgeroi, NSW. Published 17 May 2017 Edgeroi NSW 2390
Smoke adding an eerie feel to this shot
Afternoon walk, Wimmera River Published 17 May 2017. Drung VIC 3401
Sunrise on Craig's Hut in the Victorian High Country
This is the set from the movie Man From Snowy River. No snow but a heavy frost. Published 17 May 2017. Mount Buller VIC 3723
Making a better future through education
My name is John Schultz and I work with the Worimi Aboriginal Land Council at Port Stephens.
There are a few businesses the land council runs. One of them is Sand Dune Adventures, if it’s an adrenaline rush that you want. We also for cultural tours of the sand dunes.
We’ve got the biggest sand dunes in the southern hemisphere, and what not many people know is there’s a fresh water river that flows underneath it.
All the greenery that you see at Stockton Beach, if you dig down, there’s actually fresh water under there.
They say it’s better than tap water because it’s been purified and filtered through the sand so it’s nice and fresh and it’s always cold when you dig it out.
As a cultural officer for the land council I enjoy doing Aboriginal dancing for kids that come from local primary school, sometimes as many 140 students in one day.
Traditional Aboriginal dancing, I just love it; it’s where I’m from, and I connect more to the culture through the dancing of it.
I am a descendant of the Worimi people, we’ve been here for a long time. If you see a black fella you always wave and say hello because you never know it could be your first, second or third cousin.
People call me Happy John, but that hasn’t always been the case.
When I was in primary school I moved around a lot. I went to about seven different schools and ended up on the New South Wales South Coast and then I did my year 10 all the way down there.
I came to Hunter River High at Raymond Terrace to do Year 11, before my life went off the tracks. I went down to Sydney, drank, and smoked, did a lot of dumb stuff, didn’t go to school.
What do Aboriginal Education Officers do?
One day Brooke Roach, the Aboriginal Education Officer (AEO) from Hunter River High School, rang me up one day and said ‘come back up and finish school’.
If Brooke hadn’t rung me and called me back to school I don’t know what would have happened.
The 1967 Referendum that recognised Aboriginal people in the constitution led to new Commonwealth Government policies and programs to improve the education of Aboriginal people.
Aboriginal education officers (AEOs) is an example of how Commonwealth government funds the State governments to work in schools where significant numbers of Aboriginal students are enrolled.
Brooke said to me: ‘if you’re not going to get on the train and come back up, I’m going to come down and get you’.
I was scared enough to get on the train by myself, and he picked me up from the Newcastle train station and brought me back to school.
I ended up living with him for two years until I finished my Year 12.
Brooke and his family, and three kids, they call me their black kid, sometimes. When I lived with him they just adopted me as their own black child. Because they’re Aboriginal of course as well, but they’ve got fair skin kids, and I count them as my brothers.
With the people I’m surrounded by now, I count them as family. I know if f I get into trouble or anything bad happens I can always count on them, they’re always there.
I guess you could say I’m a role model for my community. I knew what I was doing was wrong and I grew sick of it. I knew that I was in the wrong and I knew that I could do better.
My family all smoke and drink, and I knew I’ve had to make a change somewhere in my family line, so I thought I’d step up and do it.
Now I’ve got a car a job, and a child, so I’m actually pretty happy that I took the time and took Brooke’s advice and came back up and finished school.
It was pretty terrifying but at the same time I just learnt to just put it all behind me and move on because I can’t dwell on it because I’m not that sort of person.
Finding the drive to do better
Playing sport taught me about finding the drive to try to do better.
I was in Year 11 and I ended up going to the South Coast Rugby League trials for the NSW schoolboys side. I made it all the way to the second division in it, so if I’d finished that I would have been in the first which is the New South Wales.
It made me push on. It made me want to do better in Year 12. It’s a good achievement to get. It gives you more of a drive, so you try to do the same thing, and see if you can get it next year.
Getting my HSC was awesome. I’m the first out of five kids in my family to get it. It feels pretty good.
I’m the second youngest so it shows that I actually am going to go places, and I can do stuff if I put my mind to it.
Recently I became a dad, which is a new challenge that I’m ready for. My sisters and my brothers, they’ve all had kids, and when I was young we used to look after them a lot.
I’ve nursed kids since they were born, so it’s really like a sort of second language to me, so I know what I’m expected of and what I can do for my kid.
Education will be a priority for my child. My child won’t be able to say ‘I’m not going to do Year 12 because you didn’t go to Year 12’.
One day I would like to go back to university, because I’m really interested in teaching, that’s what I wanted to do after school, but I had the year off instead of going to uni.
Now I’ve started working at the land council they’ve got big plans and futures for me here and this year I’ve started working full-time. Having a full-time job excites me, because I know that I’m always going to get an income.
But university is always open and it’s an always an option to anyone, so at the end you’re going to get the degree and you’re going to get a good job out of it.
Money is important, to make a better future for yourself and your kids, because if you don’t have no money, the education, you’re not going to have all these things, and have to rely on benefits such as Centrelink. I’m over Centrelink, I’ve done it all my life. Now it’s time to get my own job and start a new future for me and my family.
I feels like I’ve broken the history in my family. I’m the first one to finish school, I’m actually the first one to get my licence and a car that’s in my name, and has insurance. It just helps out a lot for what you want to do if you’ve got big dreams like I do.
My dreams are pretty big here at Worimi Land Council. I’m looking at not running the place, but being one of the head people in where I’m working at the moment. It will be good if I can get on that stepping stone, and can stay there and commit and put the effort in.
Produced with the assistance of ABC Newcastle’s Jill Emberson and Anthony Scully.
Published 18 May 2017. Williamtown NSW 2318
Saturday ritual at the local Farmers Market
Not being a 'snob' but you can taste the difference between the stuff you buy in supermarkets and the farmers market. And the most important thing is nothing can beat the interaction with the farmers. Published 04 May 2017. Canberra ACT 2601