Modern warrior Ray finds power to fight social injustice through education

04 July 2021

As a proud Western Kuku Yalanji man' Ray Rosendale has always wanted to be a warrior for his people.

Believing it was the right decision for him' Ray enjoyed a long and decorated career in the military before CQUniversity helped him to realise there is more than one way to fight for your community.

"Being a veteran' I have seen the worst of our world' but I have also seen best - people enduring great adversity with strength' honour and compassion regardless of their ability to change their situation'"

Ray explained.

"Coming from a blended Aboriginal and European family I have always been acutely aware of 'social injustice' in its many forms. This combined with my experiences in the military set me on the path to find a way to do something better.

"That something was social work' but social work with a difference.

"My family were warriors and defenders of their people. I see social work as 'modern warriors' work - fighting for people not with weapons of destruction and violence but weapons of justice and resilience."

With his newfound sense of purpose' the Cairns resident decided to enrol in a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) at CQUniversity where he could learn in a supportive and culturally diverse learning environment.

"Alongside the flexible study options' CQUni has strong and supportive First Peoples involved in every facet of university life. This gave me the confidence that I had made the right choice'"

he explained.

"I have' and will continue to be affected negatively by issues resulting from my military service' and while that is unfortunately common' the staff at CQUni were not. They were understanding' empathic and able to provide me with the assistance and tools I needed to succeed."

Now employed as a Community Services Officer- First Peoples at Cairns Regional Council' Ray strives to offer the same level of genuine support to others and make First Peoples advancement a priority for the region.

"As a dedicated First Peoples position' my role can directly influence the relationship between government and the community. I work closely with the community to resolve concerns' issues and problems that First Peoples may be facing in our region.

"I also manage our First Peoples Advisory Committee which is a group of Elders' Traditional Custodians and leaders who assist Council to oversee the Councils Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and ensure Council is meeting our community's needs' particularly regarding reconciliation and Closing the Gap'"

he said.

"The people I work with' and for' can clearly witness that a member of their community is engaged from a position of authority which allows me to contribute with the conviction and strength that comes with that respect"

As NAIDOC Week 2021 celebrations continue around the country this week' Ray encouraged young Indigenous people to consider how they could be 'warriors' in their own community.

"I have seen firsthand how education can create positive social change. I always encourage young people to find their potential and give it a go as they never know where that adventure may lead.

"By attempting something challenging' difficult or new we have already achieved something great. Accept that you may fail' you may not' but it is important to realise that failing is only another way to learn. It is only another step in our journey."