Positive Changemaking with Carly Wallace

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Carly Wallace has made a career out of inspiring others. A bona fide media maven, she entered the world of radio and television to bring about more positive representations of Indigenous Australia. She is motivated by her heritage, a fierce loyalty to her family and the power of storytelling.

Despite having faced more personal tragedy than most, she channels her diverse life experiences into a positive energy that she shares with others, particularly in her new role as a National Presenter and communications assistant at the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME).

One of AIME’s major fundraising events National Hoodie Day is coming up in the next few weeks, so I thought it was the perfect time to catch up with Carly to find out more about her work with this game changing organisation, but also to dig a little deeper to really understand what makes her tick.

In her own words, Carly talks about how her personal journey has led her to this exciting new role, her commitment to giving voice to everyday Australians through her media work and why we should all be wearing AIME Hoodies on July 10 (and taking selfies in them!)

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(Carly with Catherine Satour & I on the set of ‘Our Songs’ at NITV)

I am a Dulguburra Yidinji woman from the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. I am now based in Brisbane and have the privilege of working two amazing jobs.

I am a National Presenter and communications assistant for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) and I also work part time for National Indigenous Television (NITV) as a television presenter.

I get to work with hundreds of Indigenous kids from all over Queensland in my role with AIME, watch them grow and achieve their goals and dreams. I have the opportunity to create positivity and change for our next generation of Indigenous students and that alone motivates me to get out of bed everyday.

I am lucky to have been brought up in a strong family unit where I was encouraged to always give things a go. That motivation to keep striving and achieving and make my family proud inspires me in both of my jobs and in my everyday life.

When I’m not in the office working on AIME’s social media platforms, I’m out travelling as far as Rockhampton, Gladstone, The Sunshine Coast or Gympie, delivering its educational mentoring program.

The best thing about my jobs is that no two days are ever the same. I am often out working with Indigenous students in years 9-12 in my National Presenter role with AIME and I’m also often filming stories for NITV in my spare time. I love being able to travel and meet students and people from all over the state.

After a long day of travel and work, I head home and chill with my little brother who is 17 years old.

Media is a huge part of who I am. When I first began my career in radio, I was a shy teenager, had a lot of self esteem issues and suffered massively from shame.

I have worked in the media industry since I was 19 years old, predominantly in radio and then with NITV over the last few years. I always loved music and talking and telling stories though, so I forced myself to do radio in order to break out of the shame factor.

Over the past decade, media has taken me to so many places and has allowed my self confidence to grow massively. I have worked in both Indigenous media and non Indigenous media. I love the storytelling element of media. I love being able to tell positive stories, especially about Indigenous people. As a teenager, I would get angry with the way media portrayed us on radio and TV so I used this as motivation to pursue a career in the industry with hopes of changing a lot of those stereotypes from the inside.

But at the end of 2010, I lost my mum suddenly and took a hiatus from the media industry to move back to North Queensland from Sydney where I was working for ABC 702 at the time, to start raising my little brother who was 13 years old.

It was a massive shock to the system to walk away from my career to raise my brother but something I don’t regret doing. I missed radio at first and found it hard to get back into working in media due to the location of where we were living in North Queensland.

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I wasn’t sure I’d ever make it back into the media industry and struggled for a few years without work until I moved my brother and I to Brisbane in 2013.

It was then that I started with NITV and began a new chapter in my media career, making the switch from radio to television. At the end of 2014, a job came up with AIME in Brisbane and I applied for it and got the position as a casual national presenter. I felt this job would allow me to use my media skills to help inspire the next generation of Indigenous youth and it worked well alongside my job with NITV.

Over the course of this past year, I have realised that my story and my journey, the good and the bad, has led me to this job with AIME. I am now full time with AIME as a National Presenter and communications assistant where I get to combine my love of working with Indigenous youth and storytelling and use my media skills to run the AIME Twitter and Instagram pages. I am extremely grateful that I am able to do a job that I love where I get to share my story and the message that Indigenous=Success to the next generation of Indigenous youth.

The most rewarding part of my role with AIME is seeing the individual changes that occur in every student from when they first begin the AIME program to when they finish. I get to see kids smash that shame factor.

It’s great to see them go on to achieve everything they want to during school and beyond. To be able to have a hand in influencing young Indigenous lives everyday is something I never take for granted and something I hold close to my heart.

Every AIME site I get to work at, whether it’s Rockhampton, Brisbane, Gladstone, Gympie or The Sunshine Coast, I am always in awe of the students and mentors I meet and work with. I get to witness Reconciliation first hand every day. They all inspire me with their dreams and goals of becoming doctors, builders, engineers, teachers and even Prime Ministers. I get to witness these students finish high school despite the odds they face on a daily basis and continue to create Indigenous success in this country.

National Hoodie Day is AIME’s winter fundraiser and is coming up on Friday 10 July 2015.

It’s a chance for the whole nation to don an AIME hoodie to support our goal of more Indigenous kids finishing school at the same rate as every Australian child. Every limited edition hoodie sold brings AIME closer to working with 10,000 Indigenous kids annually across Australia by 2018.

We also have a national hoodie day competition online using the hashtag #hoodieday15 . For those that want to get involved, you can win some dope prizes just by uploading a photo of yourself in our 2015 AIME Hoodies, posting it onto your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages and using the hashtag #hoodieday15. This year’s hoodies are red, black and yellow and are selling fast so get in quick. You can get involved by purchasing a hoodie from our shop page and wearing it with pride!

If you are a uni student at one of our partnered universities, you can also jump onto our website and sign up to become a mentor for our program.

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One of my personal highlights from the past 11 years has been graduating with my diploma in radio broadcasting from The Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) in Sydney.

I was also lucky enough to win the AV Myer Award for Indigenous Excellence on the same day. Making the switch from radio to television has also been a highlight, as well as being able to travel and deliver radio workshops to Indigenous Broadcasters across Australia on behalf of AFTRS.

I’ve met so many people and interviewed famous musicians and politicians to everyday, inspiring people like artists, teachers and doctors. I have covered many events from National NAIDOC Balls, to the Yabun Festival and other cultural events. I’ve met fashion designers, young people and elders and travelled to some of the most remote places in Australia.

No matter what the event or story is, I always realise how blessed I am to have the opportunity to give a voice to everyday Australians through the medium of radio and television.

Find out more about National Hoodie Day and get involved!

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Mindfulness with the Merrymaker Sisters

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May is a month to be mindful. That’s the aim behind the Mindful in May initiative which challenges people to experience the benefits of meditation, while raising money for a very important cause. For a small registration fee, you get access to daily, online meditation support (in exchange for committing to daily practice!) and through sponsorship, raise money for clean water projects around the world.

Mindfulness is something I have a pretty strong interest in. I spent many years learning mindfulness meditation and breathing techniques as a way to deal with stress, improve overall health and combat life in general.

Although I don’t practice it as much as I should these days, I still believe it is an important part of wellbeing.

So do the Merrymaker Sisters.

Emma and Carla Papas (or ‘the sisters’) are health and happiness bloggers, natural real food recipe developers and passionate health coaches. Their vibrant blog is also an online community of people wanting to lead happier, healthier lives. Both Emma and Carla are ambassadors of Mindful in May and here, they talk about why they are putting their minds to this magnificent message.

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Introducing mindfulness into our lives has made a huge, amazing and positive impact.

It has brought more positivity, joy and fun and has also really helped in the running of our business. We now choose to live stress free lives and have tools that we use to avoid becoming overwhelmed. We’re so passionate about promoting mindfulness to our online merrymaker community, so becoming Mindful in May ambassadors just felt right to us! We want to help spread their amazing message and initiative.

Mindfulness is just as important as food and movement when it comes to overall health and happiness.

It allows us all to deal with stress better, which is the cause of many illnesses worldwide. We have both dealt with anxiety before and learning mindfulness techniques means this no longer impacts on our lives.

Us humans have a funny way of setting limits on our lives, believing that we can only achieve a certain amount, but this just isn’t true and mindfulness really helped us realise this and allowed us to have faith in our dreams.

Clean drinking water is something we all take for granted.

When we first started practising mindfulness, our reminder was water! Every time we filled our drink bottles or glasses we’d take a moment to be grateful and to come back to the ‘now.’ So the more awareness this campaign brings, the more fresh water goes to those in need, which is just amazing.

With so many great ambassadors on board and a massive collective social media audience, we have no doubt we’ll be able to bring awareness of this initiative to the masses.

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The top 3 small changes people can make right now, to live happier, healthier lives are…

To enjoy the journey and live in the now.

The moment we understood this and started to live it, we truly became healthier and happier. A huge weight lifted off our shoulders when we realised that there’s no point in reliving the past and that the future never really comes. Yes – we set huge exciting goals but we ensure we enjoy every step and that we stop and celebrate (with our favourite healthy cake).

Follow your bliss.

It was just three small words that changed our entire lives. To ‘Follow Your Bliss’ is the key to truly unlocking the joy filled life ahead. For us, understanding this was like a kick up the bum, an extra push, a huge sign saying ‘Hey Merrymakers! Your truth is this way, do more of what you love, follow your bliss!’.

We have many tips on how to find and follow your bliss but our number one tip is to simply stop and start looking for it. Add new hobbies to your life. They may not be your bliss but they may lead you to it!

Breathe

Understand that being mindful isn’t rocket science. There’s no right way or wrong way.
If you’re new to it, we’d say to focus on your breath for five minutes every day. This will easily bring you into the present moment. From there, you can look into other tools and meditations to strengthen your mindfulness. Remember, this is your journey and it will differ from everyone around you. Do what works for you and what makes you feel good!

We have set some crazy goals for the next year!

Our mission is to spread the Merrymaker message of health and happiness to as many people as possible worldwide. Prepare to see some massive exciting changes come 2016!

As for this year, we’re about to launch our very first hard copy recipe book called ‘Make It Merry’ and we’re also working on a mobile application which is due out by the end of the year. Plus, we have an exciting online program too. So it’s full steam ahead for us!

Follow the Merrymaker Sisters through their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.