Building a community for change sister to sister
For 21-year-old Kamilaroi and Dunghutti woman and physiotherapy student, Keely Silva, this year’s NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to reflect on the growing voice of Indigenous women especially among the online community she is helping to build.
The week is also special as it marks one year since Keely and her older sister, Marlee, were inspired by last year’s NAIDOC Week theme to create Tiddas 4 Tiddas — an Instagram account which celebrates, supports and brings together Indigenous women that has amassed over 10,000 followers in under a year.
“My passion and drive come from the experiences I had growing up. Some of the situations I was in, I desperately needed a platform like Tiddas 4 Tiddas,” said Keely.
“I needed other Indigenous women to talk to and relate to. There were many times when I was struggling with being proud of who I am and where I come from, so it means so much to me to offer something that I never had.”
As a representative level touch football player for the Canterbury Bulldogs, Keely has overcome challenges on and off the field to be in a position to support other women. Despite the issues facing Indigenous women including discrimination in the workplace, school environment and sporting field, Keely believes the opportunities available are growing.
“It's great to see the number of educational scholarships, work internships and representative sporting opportunities increasing and to connect with the amazing Indigenous women who receive them. We are so lucky as we get to share and create awareness for these opportunities on our platform.”
Keely received an offer to study the Bachelor of Physiotherapy through Western Sydney University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Alternative Entry Program and is also part of the University’s Elite Athlete Program.
“I am super passionate about my sport and always wanted to do something within that field. It wasn't until I was injured and saw a physiotherapist for the first time when I was about 16 that I realised that's what I wanted to do. I also loved engineering at school and biomechanics, so understanding how the body works and what I can do to help has been a massive interest to me.”
Keely and her sister share a very close bond and are excited for what the future holds for their advocacy work. After graduating from her degree, Keely hopes to practice in a private clinic or the sports industry and to engage with remote communities while continuing to score on the field.
10 July 2019
Photo credit: Sally Tsoutas