Darren Kynuna: My name’s Darren Kynuna and this is my wife Leone Kynuna.  I have six children, six girls actually.  One’s actually going to uni at the moment to be a lawyer, she works for the local justice in Yarrabah here.  My second oldest is, actually she has already graduated, she’s an academic, so she’s already working as a social worker.  The third one’s a young mum at the moment, she’s deferred her uni, she’s going to be a teacher, so she’s deferred you know until the kid grows up a bit.  The fourth one actually is in QUT down in Brisbane, she’s going to be a doctor and I got the last two that are going to private school in Cairns.

Leone Kynuna: Yes, I hope to see all six of them go through the door, we’ve got four there, yeah that would be really special if all six of them go through won’t it?  Considering where Darren and I came from and our lives and the education that we got, wasn’t much.

Darren Kynuna: My dad used to encourage me all the time, he said, “Listen, you gotta educate them. Send them to school.’  He would always drum it into me, my dad had a lot of influence on the two eldest ones too, as to getting them into school.

Leone Kynuna: The way we raised them, they just knew that grade twelve wasn’t the end of the road for their education.  They knew that there was more and they had to go on.  The school probably supported them too, in helping them to choose their chosen career paths by the subjects that they were excelling in.  They gave them that support and it was just us, encouraging them and standing by them and telling them ‘Yeah, choose something that you know you’re going to like to do in life’ and ‘education is the key to your success, the key to your future’.

Darren Kynuna: We didn’t sort of encourage them, they wanted to go into a field of their own, so what we did is supported them in that area.  We didn’t actually say ‘you’re going to have to be a doctor or you’re going to have to be a lawyer’.  They wanted to do that, so me and my wife just supported them and where they wanted to go and give them that support and that’s what a lot of parents should be focusing and that’s where we’re failing as parents.  We should be more focused on their needs instead of forcing them to do what we want them to do.  We’ve actually followed what they wanted to do and just supported them.  And I think that’s why they got there today.

It was hard work you know and my wife spent a lot of time and effort, she put a lot of time into them because I have to travel away for work a lot.  So my wife had a lot of input into it.  She struggles sometimes to just to get them out of bed you know, so it’s really hard and even to take them to school.  We actually have to drive them to school sometimes and the boarding school is a long way from where we live so she’s done a lot.

The success rate in our family is just showing, that’s sort of proof enough that we’re doing something, with our family.

Leone Kynuna: But like the hardships that our children faced too because we live in an Indigenous community, there are a lot of obstacles for them coming from an Indigenous community, not what children in mainstream probably would have had to face.  I think you probably have to live in an Indigenous community to understand what that’s all about, for the kids and the peer pressure.

Kids at that age love to party and have fun and that was hard to put restrictions on them for that.  They’ve had their rebellious times but being a strong father kept our family together.  We don’t tolerate division amongst our family and no, nothing dysfunctional.

Darren Kynuna: And I don’t drink either, so we don’t drink, so we don’t mix and that makes it easier for us to focus on our children.

Leone Kynuna: We gave up a lot of things for our children.  Like my husband said he doesn’t drink alcohol, he doesn’t party, he doesn’t do all that sort of stuff, we don’t gamble.  And people have probably got different views of us, they probably think ‘Oh, you’s are like that because you think you’re better’ or something like that.  It wasn’t that we thought we were better, we just wanted our children to have a better life, a better future for themselves.  They could look after themselves, you know they wouldn’t be falling back into the welfare dependency and that cycle of self-destruction.

Darren Kynuna: I believe that the kids who are going to school today should stay there and just focus on what they want to do with their life and just work hard on that.  And just make sure they come out and not be a problem but be part of the process, not part of the problem and work hard on their dreams I suppose.

Leone Kynuna: There’s opportunity there to get through to university.  Like our family we weren’t well off financially, we struggled a lot of the way and the girls struggled too but what we told them to do was apply for a scholarship and what they did, they applied for every possible scholarship that they could find and they ended up getting them and that got them through.  Not got them through but it helped them financially because it is a financial struggle.

I can just see them, they’re just so successful, everything’s that’s coming to them in their life is coming to them so easy, like their father and I, it was pretty hard for us to get ahead back in our days without an education but I just see doors opening for them all the time.

Darren and Leone's Interview

Darren and Leone

Location: Yarrabah

Darren and his wife Leone live in Yarrabah, QLD where they raised their six daughters. Darren and Leone have a lot to be proud of with three daughters currently studying at university, two daughters attending boarding school nearby and one who has graduated and is working as social worker. They attribute their successful parenting to hard work and dedication to their daughters’ academic pursuits. By encouraging their daughters to follow their dreams, Darren and Leone have seen all of their children excel in their studies and gain access to life changing university scholarships.