GO Ambassador Brooke Boney is a proud Gamilaroi woman from country NSW, who grew up in Muswellbrook with her mum and siblings.  After studying journalism at UTS, Brooke worked as a television news reporter, and at Triple J, before joining the Today Show team as Entertainment Reporter in 2019.  We caught up with Brooke at the end of a very busy 2019 to hear a bit more about her life.

ALEX (GO’s Head of Media): You grew up in the Hunter Valley on Wonnarua country and went to Muswellbrook High. Who encouraged you to go on to further education, and what was your path from Year 12 to university?

BROOKE BONEY:  No-one really encouraged me to go on to further education. I think for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids — many of us haven’t seen it before and so it’s hard for us to know what that pathway is.  When I came to the end of high school (because I didn’t actually finish year 12), I sort of travelled around a bit.  I moved up to the Gold Coast for a little while, I did waitressing, some telemarketing, and a couple of other little bits and bobs.  Then I moved back to Sydney and I did an advertising cadetship at the Financial Review.  And it was there I decided that I really wanted to be involved in journalism.  We had a massive trauma in my family, and I realized that I wanted to be a part of telling the stories about our people rather than have that job left to other people.  And so, I applied to the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) through the Jumbunna alternative entry pathway and studied as a mature age student.

ALEX: Encouraging girls to go further with their education after high school is a priority for GO. What would you say to young women needing courage and support to go on to do a VET course or university and pursue their dreams?

BROOKE: I would say to young women that they are important, and that we need them for our communities.  For them to follow their dreams is exactly what we want from them.  And I don’t want them to get to a point in their lives where they’ve had these dreams their entire life, and then they don’t chase them because they think they’re not good enough or they don’t see themselves as part of that world.  So, if it is your dream to go on to university or do some sort of post-secondary education, then do it.  Absolutely do it!  And know that it’s going to be difficult and that there will be days where you’re going to be away from your friends and family and you’ll have to sacrifice things.  But it is worth it.  And it’s important for our whole community that people, particularly young girls and women, pursue those sorts of opportunities.

ALEX: You’re a great inspiration for so many girls and boys. Who did you look to as role models growing up?  I imagine your mum was a star in your eyes.

BROOKE: My mum was and still is an absolute star in my eyes!  I don’t know anyone who would be able to raise six children on their own with values that are based around being kind to others and having an impact on the people around us.  I really admire her for her strength, but also for her empathy.  That’s something that stays with me now.  The way that you treat people who are less fortunate than you – even if you don’t have very much –  says a lot about who you are,  and I really admire my mum for teaching me that.  I look to all the women in my family for that sort of strength and that sort of kindness, because it’s a trait that’s common in Boney women that they are very strong, but very soft at the same time.

ALEX: Joining the team at Triple J was a huge moment for you.  How was it working there?

BROOKE: Triple J was a big shift for me, because before that I was working in television news as a political reporter at SBS before I moved to Sydney to work at the ABC. Triple J was my first go at hosting and presenting rather than being a journalist and reporting.  So, it was a massive shift.  I remember feeling very nervous about whether people would like me.  I also remember feeling very nervous about putting myself out there and being a little bit vulnerable as you sort of are when you do open yourself up to the audience.  I remember not sleeping very much the night before, which probably was good preparation for the number of years that have followed where I haven’t slept very much at all!

ALEX: Now you are entertainment reporter for TODAY, and the first Indigenous broadcaster on breakfast television.  How does that make you feel?  Your family must be so proud of you.

BROOKE: My family is so proud.  They are embarrassingly proud.  My grandfather will walk up to people and say, ‘Do you know who my granddaughter is? She’s on the Today Show’, which is very cute but also very embarrassing when you’re just at the RSL Club at Inverell or Muswellbrook or something!  It makes me feel good because it’s not that long ago that his life would have been really tough, and you know he would have been made to feel ashamed of himself.  And so, to be able to make him feel proud, makes me feel really good.  It makes me feel like all his hard work and his effort was worth it.  You know, he gets to enjoy the fruits of his labour.  He’s created this life for all his grandkids that’s a lot easier than his was.

ALEX: Breakfast television is not always glamorous.  You’re up very early and constantly on the go…but if it involves the Oscars it can’t be all work and no play!  How are you enjoying it?

ANITA: I am really enjoying it, although at this stage it’s mostly work and a little tiny bit of play.  My workload comes in peaks and valleys and sometimes it’s really heavy going in terms of the load and then other times it’s a bit lighter on.  I think it’s good to have that balance because then you can be grateful for all of it.  And I also think, you need to hustle for the things that you really want, and if they come easy then you probably won’t enjoy them as much.  So, a few busy days? It’s not the worst thing in the world.  And I think that having a strong work ethic is a very important part of television.  It’s probably the least glamorous side of it, besides all the hair and makeup and all of the nice clothes that you get to wear.  On the other side of that is all the hard work behind it.