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Two men celebrating National Reconciliation Week 2024 with a selfie

Joe’s Reconciliation: From hidden roots to proud ancestry

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for reflection, learning, and coming together as a nation to build relationships and promote understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It’s a time to acknowledge the past, celebrate the present, and look towards a more harmonious future. 

Joe, a Trilogy Care recipient, shared his journey to reconnect with his culture and history, shedding light on the challenges  many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals encounter while striving to reclaim and celebrate their ancestry. 

Although Joe was born Christopher James Hall, when his grandfather first saw him as a baby he exclaimed, “That’s my little Joe right there!”. From that day forward, he became known to all as Joe.  

Growing up, Joe was unaware of his Indigenous heritage as his mother kept their ancestry a secret

“Our mum was somewhat prejudiced about our black heritage. Although we’re not fully black in colour, we never understood why she kept it hidden. After her passing, a lot was revealed by uncles and aunties. We are proud to be Aboriginal, and now we are welcomed by our heritage elders.”  

Following his mother’s passing, Joe and his sister sought to reconnect with their heritage. After researching the family and discovering they have Cantwell Partridge heritage dating back to the 1800s, Joe and his sister visited Mindaribba to present evidence of their ancestry.  

“Well, the elders said ‘Welcome to the family. Good to see you. Come back to us.’ And then they said, ‘you need to be named’. So, my sister was named Tiriki which means bright star and I was named Kuway Kuway which means proud man.”  

Being accepted into the family and recognised as uncle and auntie by the younger generation brought a sense of belonging and validation to Joe and his sister.  

“To be accepted straight away, it’s amazing. And they walk past now and say, ‘hey uncle’ and it gives you a great feeling inside that you’re accepted back into the family.”  

Joe’s connection with his culture has been a guiding force throughout his life, influencing his personal and professional paths.  

About five years ago, I went to an Aboriginal seminar. They put name tags on us, of course. And my last name is Hall. But mum’s last name was Bates. I looked around and saw all these ‘Bates’. All the name tags ‘Bates, Bates, Bates’, and I’m going hang on. I walked up to one guy and said, ‘Are you from Sydney? My grandfather is, and his name is Lionel George Bates’ and the guy replied, ‘Yeah, he’s part of the family’. I couldn’t believe it.” Joe’s exploration of his roots has shifted his perspective, bringing a renewed sense of purpose and identity to his daily life. By engaging with his community and culture, he has not only rediscovered his history but also reclaimed it after it was obscured for much of his youth. 

Joe’s journey, especially when it comes to care and supports, has not been without its challenges. In the past, he encountered discrimination and bureaucratic struggles when seeking care services. Since shifting to Trilogy Care, Joe expressed how easy it is to access the support he needs to live the life he wants.  

“Being self-managed allows me to choose services that align with my cultural beliefs. I can pick and choose what I want and how I want it. I also have to put in a good word for Madison [my care partner]. She’s a great girl. I only have to drop her an email and it’s solved within a day or two at most. 

By listening, advocating, and adapting to individual circumstances, Trilogy Care has shown that quality care is not just about providing services, but about building meaningful and respectful relationships.  

They’re not prejudiced. They’ve never said anything like ‘well, because you’re Aboriginal…’ they don’t use those type of words. They just treat as they would anyone else.” 

As Joe continues to navigate his care journey, he remains committed to advocating for his rights and embracing his heritage with pride. He emphasises the importance of listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories and experiences while also being mindful of potential misconceptions. Joe’s experience highlights the importance of compassionate and culturally competent care in creating positive outcomes for all individuals, regardless of background or circumstance. 

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Please contact Trilogy Care on 1300 459 190 for any further information.

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