She is also a former captain of the Desert Peas, the maiden South Australian female team to take part in the National Indigenous Cricket Championships.
Jade will be spending Reconciliation Week in several communities across the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, striving to provide access to life-changing services.
To mark the beginning of Reconciliation Week, Jade reflected on her story and reconciliation.
“Reconciliation Week changes every year, with a new theme each time. This year the theme is Be Brave, Make Change. To me, this means be bold and make statements. Statements that can influence change in what you do in your work, home and family life.
“It is about beginning the conversation. What I am finding is that more and more non-Aboriginal are increasingly willing to come, sit down and have a conversation, actually listen and increase their education.
“It is about asking the questions, but also doing your own research so that you come to those conversations with some knowledge and understanding. When you sit down with us, actually have the discussion. Don’t come in with pre-conceived ideas and be unwilling to learn.
“We can no longer rely on Aboriginal people being the sole voice in leading reconciliation. It is not us who needs to do the reconciliation. It is the non-Aboriginal people who need to lead.
“I was born and raised in Port Augusta, and I am lucky that with work I get to travel home quite often. I also get the chance to go further North with my family who live in Oodnadatta and Coober Pedy, as well as reconnecting with my Pitjantjatjara family.
“The best way for us to keep our history and culture alive is to spend time on Country; being with our parents, grandparents, Aunties and Uncles to hear stories about the land we are on.
“Another huge part of that is keeping our languages alive. Growing up, we spoke many languages, and I was lucky enough that I was able to learn a bit of Pitjantjatjara and my Arabana language, and now that I live closer to Ngarrindjeri country, I am learning more of those languages, as well as Kaurna. It is respectful to make that effort given I am living on that land.
“Aboriginal people can be connected to multiple communities. I always lead with Arabana, who is my father’s bloodline, the Ngarrindjeri people, who is my mother’s bloodline, and Pitjantjatjara who is my grandmother’s bloodline.
“A Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country is important and it is great to see that becoming better understood. When we meet another Aboriginal person, the first thing we ask is who you are and where you are from. What we are trying to do is build a connection.
“Non-Aboriginal people do this as well. When you are asked where you are from, the person is usually trying to find something specific that you both know that can create a connection. It isn’t just about the location.
“Things we have in common are great ways to communicate, and then the things we don’t have in common are opportunities to learn.
“I got into cricket as a skill transfer from softball. I came to Adelaide for work with the Office of Recreation and Sport and someone suggested I try cricket, and part of my job was to increase participation, so I thought I better put my hand up.
“I think I basically was made vice-captain [of the Desert Peas], and captain the following year, because of my leadership skill set, not necessarily my cricketing ability. I may not be a great player, but I certainly know how to talk to people. Leadership is about having a conversation and believing what you are saying. That seemed to work well with our group.
“I am not very shy, but some of the girls we played with were quite shy and found meeting lots of people hard. The first thing I was taught growing up is that when you meet someone you say: ‘hello, how are you, my name is Jade’, and then find that connection I spoke about.
“At the Indigenous Championships I did that with our players and with everyone from the other states. ‘My name is Jade, I identify from this Country, this is where I am on the map.’
“Something that really helped with that was the amazing artwork we had on our playing kit. We were so lucky that we had amazing artists design these; Marcus from the Boomerangs and Jess with the Desert Peas. They both designed incredible collaborative, community driven designs, so I was fortunate enough to be able to stand in a big circle and share the stories of those artworks, which really opened conversations.
“Something I have taken away from the Indigenous Championships is how lucky we are in South Australia. As Aboriginal people we have lost a lot around our culture and our stories, but here we are quite lucky because we do have really strong language and education. Some other states don’t have that access to their families and their stories because it was taken away from them.
“Sport brings people together. We are really competitive in this country, and so being involved in sport can help to give people that sense of belonging. It just needs to be channelled in a positive way.
“There is a really big movement for women in general, including Indigenous women, to participate in sport at a higher level. We are seeing more female sporting role models in the media, and I have seen a lot more sporting clubs multiplying their female teams.
“I have seen more Aboriginal women participating in sports not traditionally offered to women. Numbers are increasing in sports like cricket and football, not just the usual sports such as netball and basketball. It just goes to show that when positive opportunities become available and accessible, people will take them.
“You can’t be what you can’t see. We are seeing more Aboriginal men and women participating in football at the highest levels, and so as that happens in cricket at the national and state level, it makes the next generation realise that they can do it too. It is about feeling included and welcomed.
“Our Desert Peas and Boomerangs may not have been the strongest teams, but one thing that we don’t lack in is community spirit and pride. Knowing who we are and where we come from. We may not have the big wins all the time, but we celebrate the small wins along the way. And those wins have nothing to do with the score.
“Winning isn’t everything. It is about how you get there.”
27 May 2022