Meet our Elders, our Elders pass on wisdom, knowledge and stories about our culture and always get our respect!

Meet the elders

Andrew Gardiner
“Don’t start.
Stay strong in your culture
and your belief in yourself
to know the right”

Andrew Gardiner

Mob/clan:
Wooroondjeri -Baluk Clan (Woiwurrung speaking)

Where did you grow up?
Donald, Nobel Park and Dandenong area

What does being Aboriginal mean to you?
Being recognized as a first nation person of this land and a Traditional Custodian gives a special feeling to being a Victorian/Australian

How do you like to get involved in activities in the community (celebrate culture)?
Help to organize things/events/involvement with cultural content such as: Welcome, dancing, smoking ceremony, storytelling.

What is the most important thing that Aboriginal youth should know about their culture?
Their family tree, their heritage, clan/tribal group, and language – getting to know that and practicing it gives identity and pride

Do you believe smoking cigarettes is part of Aboriginal culture?
NO.

What advice would you give to a young person who is feeling pressure to smoke cigarettes?
Don’t start. Stay strong in your culture and your belief in yourself to know the right

Did you ever smoke cigarettes? Why not? or Why and how did you quit?
Yes, I used to smoke due to social aspect/inclusiveness etc. If you’re strong in yourself then you can say no.

Norma Maynard
“That stuff’s no good for ya!”

Norma Maynard

Mob/clan:
Tasmania

Where did you grow up?
Born on Cape Baron, I was brought up in Tasmania

What does being Aboriginal mean to you?
“Everything, its very important to me”

How do you like to get involved in activities in the community (celebrate culture)?
“I go to programs and events in the community”

What is the most important thing that Aboriginal youth should know about their culture?
“They should know who their mob is. And their culture like the dances, ancestors and family”

Do you believe smoking cigarettes is part of Aboriginal culture
NO.

What advice would you give to a young person who is feeling pressure to smoke cigarettes?
“That stuff’s no good for ya”

Did you ever smoke cigarettes? Why not? or Why and how did you quit?
“I never smoked. I didn’t like the smell”

Doug Smith
“Don’t do it. It’s no good
for your health.
Health is more important
than smoking”

Doug Smith

Mob/clan:
Wiradjuri

Where did you grow up?
New South Wales

What does being Aboriginal mean to you?
“To me, its everything”

How do you like to get involved in activities in the community (celebrate culture)?
“I get involved in every activity and program in our community”

What is the most important thing that Aboriginal youth should know about their culture?
“The youth should try to find out everything that relates to their culture”

Do you believe smoking cigarettes is part of Aboriginal culture
NO.

What advice would you give to a young person who is feeling pressure to smoke cigarettes?
“Don’t do it. Its no good for your health. Health is more important than smoking”

Did you ever smoke cigarettes? Why not? or Why and how did you quit?
“I used to smoke. But I have quit. I started when I was young because of peer pressure, lots of my friends smoked and I gave in”

Pat Ockwell
“Smoking does so much
damage to you. It starts
a lot of problems”

Pat Ockwell

Mob/clan:
Wurundjeri and Dja Dja Wurung

Where did you grow up?
Healesville

What does being Aboriginal mean to you?
It means a lot because mum was a princess of my tribe.

How do you like to get involved in activities in the community (celebrate culture)?
I go to Yarning group – I open up about my culture. Meet with other people and discuss issues about our culture. I’m a cultural trainer for the Dandenong councilors.

What is the most important thing that Aboriginal youth should know about their culture?
Culture is very important for the kids. I see lots of kids who don’t know their tribe. They need to know their tribe and the meaning of the [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island] flags. They need to trace their family tree.

Do you believe smoking cigarettes is part of Aboriginal culture?
No it’s not. It’s the white man’s policy.

What advice would you give to a young person who is feeling pressure to smoke cigarettes?
First of all, I’d tell them a story about when I started smoking – I was 17 and I took one puff and coughed up so much. It [smoking] does so much damage to you. It starts a lot of problems. Smoking is a no-no.

Did you ever smoke cigarettes? Why not? or Why and how did you quit?
I took one puff and couldn’t get my breath back. Mum and dad used to say ‘don’t touch the smokes’ but you get caught up going along with it [peer pressure to smoke]. But I never touched it after that.

Olive Armstrong
“Have your own willpower
and don’t be talked into anything!”

Olive Armstrong

Mob/clan:
Wurundjeri

Where did you grow up?
Healesville then Doveton

What does being Aboriginal mean to you?
Everything

How do you like to get involved in activities in the community (celebrate culture)?
Go to programs and events

What is the most important thing that Aboriginal youth should know about their culture?
They need to respect their elders and themselves. If they have their respect then they know their culture and get involved in things.

Do you believe smoking cigarettes is part of Aboriginal culture?
No!

What advice would you give to a young person who is feeling pressure to smoke cigarettes?
Have your own willpower and don’t be talked into anything. If you have strong willpower then you don’t get pressured into that sort of thing.

Did you ever smoke cigarettes? Why not? or Why and how did you quit?
Yes – I thought I was ‘big time’ when I wasn’t. I regret smoking –now I get tired when I exercise [because of smoking]. I quit smoking 12 years ago. You can do it if you want to.

Back to top