Hi, my name is Medika and I am a proud Gunditjmara, Gunnai, Wemba Wemba, Boon Wurrung, and Narungga woman. I started at Clothing The Gaps when I finished school in 2019. I mainly packed orders, folded stock, and did things around the tiny office back in Preston! After finishing my Certificate 3 in Business at Clothing The Gaps, and eventually been given the role of an ‘Impactor’, I have been more immersed in the Clothing The Gaps Foundation and specifically their programs. I already had some experience in co-hosting online programs because I helped contribute to the roll out of Wellah Women Online.
This year, Wellah Together Online was my first program that promoted health and wellbeing for Aboriginal men and women in one space on screen, so I was pretty excited but nervous to be part of this. I have never been really confident in public speaking or what the team call ‘bringing the energy’, it has just been a skill I lacked in and hardly tried to practice. Seeing as the whole program was planned to be in a professional studio with mini mics, lots of cameras, a big screen and a pro logistics wizard it seemed a bit daunting at first, but then Covid cases started to rise drastically in Melbourne and the likelihood of the team going back into the studio space was slim. This was then when we had to get creative to be hosts in our own space because the whole team tuned in remotely from their homes.
Filming content was such an important aspect of the program as it delivered the information to the participants. I always dreaded filming because like I said, I wasn’t confident in public speaking, now I had to remember scripts, perform them with high energy and then be presented to the program and on the Clothing The Gaps Foundation website… which was scary.
During these 7 weeks I had learned to be super organised, how to be proactive when live and after the program finished and how to own my space. Thanks to my team always helping me out on and off the screen, I felt like even when I did feel overwhelmed from a slip up, I never faced embarrassment.
The group of Wellah Together participants were a great bunch to talk to, as they were so enthusiastic to shake up their health and wellbeing and meet new mob. That was probably the most rewarding aspect of being part of this program; was seeing the women and men connect and be able to share their experiences to everyone with little-to-no shame. After the first 2 weeks, I started to build relationships with the participants as some of them were comfortable enough to call me their ‘sis’ and reach out to me for things outside of the program. This is why I love what I do here at Clothing The Gaps Foundation, seeing mob connecting with other mob especially through tough times like the Covid restrictions and heavy lockdowns.
The participants also had the opportunity to provide weekly feedback, which helped us shape the way we presented the program the following weeks. Some were critiques, but most of them were the participants saying how much they love and appreciate the time and effort the hosts and other participants showed. I enjoyed every week’s session but if had to choose then I would say I loved when Tracy Hardy, an Aboriginal nutritionist who came and guest spoke about the improvement of our gut and overall health when we eat traditional food such as seeds and nuts. She then demonstrated how to make a simple, time-efficient, delicious smoothie.
The results of the program were proven beneficial to me when a participant reached out and said that pre-program, they had visited the doctor and was told they had high cholesterol, but post-program they went back to the doctor to find out that over the 7 weeks their cholesterol had dropped majorly. They said their decisions were heavily influenced by the information we provided and how it was provided. We are very proud of them, and of our work, of course.
Thinking about it all, how much confidence I have grown through co-facilitating these programs and the people I’ve met, it has been such a great learning experience and I think all young people new to the workforce, wanting to expand their skill set should dive into workspaces that encourage and engage in these community hosting events and programs.
I will be looking forward to the next program. Whether it is face to face, or online again, the opportunity to meet new people and learn is still there. Although, the joy interacting with my community face to face brings me is something I will always try to incorporate in my work, and in life, in general. It so rewarding and heart filling, seeing mob kicking goals, big or small. I am proud to be part of something that truly betters the overall health and wellbeing of my fellow Aboriginal counterparts.