My name is Haidarr Jones and I am studying Media at Flinders University and I’m a Wiradjuri man from New South Wales. I grew up in a family of four other siblings and I was raised by my mother, never met my father but it was difficult because I didn’t have that kind of inspiration, I didn’t have anyone there to guide me. My mum and my siblings, we all travelled around the country. I spent my childhood in a few different schools and it was just hard because I didn’t have no childhood friends, I couldn’t grow up with anyone and I had to live with my mother, who was always around these domestic violence situations, so I grew up in a lot of women’s refuges and in that kind of situation there’s always issues around, there’s drugs, there’s alcohol, you name it there’s so many different things that bother children like me and I didn’t know that when I was a child and I only started realising that these kinds of circumstances that I was in was bad, when I was fifteen.
University didn’t come to my head until I was in year twelve. I never thought about university, I never thought about doing anything after school really. I was focused on what was around me, I was focused on the challenges that I had to beat to get away from this because no one’s sitting there telling me that I can actually go to uni, no one told me that and I believed it because, I mean I believed that that was the case because yeah I’d never been to a university, I never had that kind of encouragement.
To enrol into uni I had to go through an online process and you know them online processes, I guess they’re difficult because you don’t know what to expect. I mean, you can put an application forward but you got to sit down and wait, you got to wait for someone to agree with you and say ‘yeah.’ So in year twelve I had to do that, and believe it or not I actually got something and I deferred it. I deferred it because I wanted to experience the world and plus I guess I wasn’t ready to move to a city because I’m from the country and that move isn’t easy. It isn’t easy for anyone who’s you know used to that kind of, the place they’re living in. I mean, I was living there for like two years at Port Lincoln, a little country town and six-seven hundred K’s to get to Adelaide. Adelaide is where I study so you know I had to move away from everyone I knew to get to this new environment and I’d never lived in the city before. So I sort have had to challenge myself in finding a place to live, finding what I’d do and how I’d get to uni and sure enough I actually moved into an accommodation which is for youth homeless people and I mean, I was used to that so I found it good because I can relate to a lot of the people there.
Why media? Why not? It’s a start, I had to get in somehow. I looked at what was interesting at uni, I looked at what I could go for and with my scores they were low, so I was like ‘media it is then’. I mean I applied for three different unis and I just took the only one that I got into and once I got in you know I found a passion in it so I stayed and I said ‘yeah, this is what I want to do, so’.
University isn’t the easiest option but it’s definitely not the hardest and it’s definitely the most prosperous. So sometimes at university you know I wish I was broke, I wish I was on Centrelink because that seemed like it was the easy life but it’s not and you know if you want to do something with yourself you’ve got to think about where you’re going and that ain’t the option so for me personally you know, I do struggle sometimes at uni but it challenges me and most of the challenges are what I want to be learning and what I want to do and I find success in learning about what I want to learn about, so most times at university you know they give you options to do stuff that you want.
The Indigenous Unit* at Flinders is Yunggorendi and yeah they help me all the time. Like there’s probably most days I go to university I’ve got to visit that centre because there’s a lot of support in there and yeah I guess I couldn’t have made it here without them because you know they give me support, they push me and frankly, without them I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be studying still, I’d be gone. So yeah I got a lot of support from them and I’ve got a lot of appreciation for them and their group. They provided me with a tutor, a student tutor, that helps me and one, two, probably four student tutors and you know they’ve helped me quite a lot cause when I need help with an assignment you know they’re always there for me to call and say you know ‘I need someone to push me with this because I don’t get it, I don’t get what I’m reading right now’, so I need that kind of help and they’ve been very helpful, them and Yunggorendi as well.
To go to university, for an Indigenous person, is a big step but it’s definitely worth it you know because you can go back to your community or your parents or your family can see you and they will be like ‘Oh man, he’s a star now, that person I knew him from when he’s growin’ up, I didn’t think anyone was going to do that’.
I think any Indigenous student or person that goes to university is going to be a role model for their community. So the advice I’d give to the younger generation is you know listen to the people that are going to, that want to help you, that want to give you opportunities, look for opportunities. But it’s not easy because you’re in the mindset where you want to have fun, you’re young and you just want to do something but I’d give advice to the older generation that they need to be stepping up their game and getting out there and trying to inspire the kids, regardless of their circumstance. You know, they need to help the other Indigenous kids like, that was like me because you know, them circumstances are hard to get out of, so trying to give them advice and opportunities you know to better themselves.
*Note: each university may refer to their local Indigenous support services in different ways e.g. Indigenous Education Units; Indigenous Support Units; School of Indigenous Australian Studies; Indigenous Institute etc., and may include Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander language in the naming title, as relevant to the local area.
Haidarr is studying a Bachelor of Media (Creative Arts) majoring in Screen and Media, in Adelaide, SA. While growing up, Haidarr was forced to move around a lot with his mum and family as they fled domestic violence situations, but he was able to overcome his past and apply to study at university. He believes that while university is not hard, it is not always easy but is definitely worthwhile in the end.