NAIDOC Week 2022: Local leader Carrissa Bellottie shares her Aboriginal experience

Lachlan AllenGeraldton Guardian
 Carrissa Bellottie has spent her working life helping Aboriginal people.
Camera Icon Carrissa Bellottie has spent her working life helping Aboriginal people. Credit: Tamra Carr/Geraldton Guardian

The theme for NAIDOC Week 2022 is Get up! Stand up! Show up! and there are not many people in the Geraldton community who embody this theme like Carrissa Bellottie does.

Whether it be through her extensive work in the community or earlier this year when she broke through the glass ceiling becoming the first Indigenous person to be GNFL president.

Hailing from Shark Bay, where she completed her primary school education, Bellottie is a proud Malgana Nanda Waljarri person.

She soon moved to Geraldton, boarding at the local high school and has stuck around ever since.

Most of her career have been spent working with Aboriginal organisations, such as Commonwealth Indigenous Affairs, State Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal education.

Currently working as a youth transition co-ordinator for the education department, Bellottie said she loves to help people through her work.

“I think education is a priority. It’s making sure that our future, in our children, that they’re educated. That has to be the priority if we’re ever going to move forward as a society, really.”

“I mean, now I have a seven-year-old daughter. So she’s kind of takes up most of my time and I’ve got two nephews that live with me.”

Juggling her job, position as GNFL president and raising her seven-year-old daughter keeps her very busy but Bellottie takes it all in her stride.

What does it mean to be Aboriginal? For Bellottie it’s showing pride in her culture and passing that on to her daughter.

“I teach my daughter about how proud I am to be Aboriginal. I teach my daughter that being Aboriginal we come in all different colours. it doesn’t matter, the colour of your skin, you are still Aboriginal, and still be proud of who you are.

“It’s important for my daughter to understand, what her culture is, what that means to her, and that we have cultures that are similar, but different. We need to be able to respect our Aboriginal culture. Not only the past, but what is today and what it will become in the future.”

Bellottie’s message for NAIDOC Week 2022 is “just show up, put yourself out there, see what’s happening in our Aboriginal communities and support some of the things that they’re doing.

“Think about what we can do for our community to highlight what NAIDOC means to us as Aboriginal people and sharing our beautiful culture.”

However, she also acknowledged the lack of events this year for NAIDOC Week in Geraldton.

“What needs to happen is, we need someone to lead this charge of, putting together some really good NAIDOC activities.”

While Bellottie doesn’t have the answers, she would like to see the City of Greater Geraldton take the lead for the community.

“Geraldton has had some awesome community events in the past, we had a NAIDOC ball, people miss that, being able to get dressed up, go out and, again, enjoy your culture, among other people and have some fun.

“They used to have carnivals and sporting activities, but it’s just all faded away over the years.”

Recognising there is work to be done, Bellottie turned her attention to next year’s celebration.

“I think it’s a brilliant message this year and I just don’t think we’ve taken enough advantage of it to really get up, stand up, show up.

“Given what this year’s message is, let’s push forward and say well, okay, we’re lacking a little bit in celebration here in Geraldton.

“Let’s show up for next year and let’s put something bigger and better on for next year, let’s put Geraldton back on the map.”

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