22 October 2020
We sat down with Taylor Fitzgerald, 2018 NAIDOC Trainee of the year. Taylor is a 21-year-old Aboriginal Kamilaroi woman who stands proud with the greatest of qualities handed down to her from her long line of Elders. She is an activist and survivor.
Taylor’s interest and focus has always been within the power between cultures and education. This love and interest led her into her current career as an Indigenous Education Officer at a local Canberra High School. Taylor’s passion is making a difference and supporting the voices of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Taylor will facilitate our panel at She Leads High Conference 2020, a leadership conference for girls, including female-identifying and nonbinary people, in years 9 and 10. The conference will take place at Kambri, Australian National University, on 30 October.
We took five minutes with Taylor Fitzgerald. Here’s what we learned.
1) Describe yourself in 30 words or less.
I am a proud Kamilaroi woman. An activist, survivor and advocate of equality for women both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous. My beliefs drive me to fight for equality for everyone in my community.
2) Tell us about a moment in your life that defined your leadership style.
I have many moments I can think about that has had an impact on the type of role model and leader I would like to be. But of recent times one moment that I watched happening in the world and cemented the type of leader I wanted to be was the Christchurch mosque shootings that happened over a year ago. The way in which Jacinta Ardern responded to the Muslim community was admirable. She engaged with the Muslim community, showed compassion and empathy all whilst standing strong and leading her grieving country through the disaster. She engages and listens to her people and shows that you can be a Mum, Wife and female leader of a Country and her leadership style and branding makes people believe in her and have nothing but respect for her.
3) What’s the question you are most tired of hearing on women’s leadership, and what would you like to say about it, so you never have to answer it again?
Are you confident enough? I would like to encourage other young aspiring female leaders like myself to first get used to other people always trying to knock you ‘off your game’ or not liking you, and really for no apparent reason. The advice I would give to other female leaders is to go in knowing this and being comfortable with it, have confidence in yourself and have a vision and goal on what you want to achieve. Remain calm, stay strong, be kind and you will be successful in whatever you want to do.
4) What were you like as a 16-year-old? Would you give her any advice? If so, what?
As a 16 year old, I was a little unsure of myself and who/what I wanted to be and this made me very anxious and to a degree angry at myself a lot cause I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my life. The advice I would give my 16 year old self today is, ‘It’s ok to not have a clear picture of what I want in my life or where I want to be when I finish school, just stay happy, enjoy sisterhood with the girls and believe in the universe and the paths it will take you on and the opportunities that will be put in front of you’.
5) What is something that has been challenging you lately?
Like a lot of people today I guess, COVID19 has changed the world and life as we know it and the things we did and took for granted everyday are no longer there. I have been very fortunate to continue in my job and have a loving supportive family at home and by being an Educator I have been able to help families and children throughout this time, so this has kept me balanced. But I see the mental health issues rising and families struggling and I myself find it challenging when I am limited to what I am able to do to help. Another big challenge I faced throughout this time is the Black Live’s matter movement and seeing my own people still fighting for their voices to be heard.
If you know or are a student in year 9 and 10 who would like to learn more about Taylor, be sure to join us at She Leads High on 30 October!
To register, visit our ticketing page