If Madi Howarth’s 18-year-old self had a vision of where she is today, she’d be wide-eyed: settled in London (during pandemic lockdown), remotely immersed in her online Bachelor of Media studies at UNSW, with a lovely English boyfriend and a part-time job.  She’s on the way to living her dream at 24.

Says Madi, “My journey with GO began 5 years ago, when I’d just finished school. I’d just moved to Sydney, and I really needed a job.  I applied for the traineeship with the Sydney Swans and the GO Foundation late one night, and I’m so glad I got it!  Being a GO Scholar has given me access to opportunities and a network that continues to support me in all aspects of my life.”

Madi Howarth is a proud Gringai woman of the Wonnarua Nation, the Traditional Custodians of the Hunter Valley region. “I have had the privilege of growing up with supportive parents who always encouraged me, but not everyone has that privilege,” she says. “I was working in Redfern for a while. It’s a special place for our mob, and for me especially. My great grandmother lived there as a 12-year-old and was taken from her home with her siblings.  She was denied an education and the opportunity to choose her own path.

“It’s because of women like my nan and their strength and survival that I get to write my destiny,” explains Madi. “I always said I wanted to live in another country and experience life in a different culture. In 2018 I was at a bit of a crossroad, so I packed up my life and headed to London. It was a huge step. I had only one friend there, and my only time out of Australia had been a week’s holiday in Thailand!

“In my time in London, I’ve met so many people who didn’t know Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians exist, which is crazy!  It’s meant that I’ve spent a lot of time talking about our people and our culture, and I’ve learnt a lot in the process. It’s taught me a lot about myself, the world, and my place in it.”

London is slowly coming back to life after Covid-19, and Madi is out of furlough, meaning she’s back working part-time from home in her job with a company that treats brain cancer.  All the while she’s been continuing her online studies at UNSW to complete her Bachelor of Media in Communications and Journalism. “In terms of my future career, anything that involves travelling would be ideal,” she says. “I’ve done a couple of PR and advertising subjects and I love those.”

“I haven’t been back home at all, but now I have company from home. My brother Kobi, who’s 20, arrived just before Covid-19 on a working holiday,” says Madi. “My family does miss me – and now us, with Kobi here too, but they hide it well!”

Madi does plan to come home to Australia, eventually. “When I do come back, I know that the GO Foundation support network will be there for me. Knowing I will be able to call on them as a sounding board for support and to connect me to opportunities is just so wonderful,” says Madi. “I’m very lucky. There are so many other young Indigenous Australians just like me, and just as deserving as me, who haven’t had the same opportunities. I would love to see more of them given those opportunities to get an education, go on to reach the top of their chosen fields and break down barriers, like I’m working to do.”