en-us Inspired by Yarra

Tiana Koehrer

2014

Project Officer, First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria

"Every opportunity you miss, leads you towards something better."

Tiana Koehrer joined Yarra in Year 7, only a few weeks after the devastating Black Saturday bushfires swept through Victoria.

“Joining Yarra at that time was important for me – it was a defining moment. I arrived on my own but I ended up meeting a wide range of people and personalities. Everyone knew everyone in my year level and I’m still good friends with my Year 7 group.”

Tiana remembers Year 7 camp being moved due to the bushfires and later the excitement of the Debutante Ball. She also remembers teachers who had an impact on her because of their unbridled passion for their subjects.

“Being in philosophy classes with Mr Manning opened my eyes to the world. There were many interesting debates.”

Tiana is a proud Yorta Yorta and Wurundjeri woman and since leaving school and studying Public Relations, she’s used her communication and organisational skills to work within Aboriginal communities.

“I resonate with my Aboriginal culture and heritage. My grandmother is a Wurundjeri elder who is heavily involved in the justice system and I’m grateful that my family have documented our history and connections,” she says. 

Tiana works in the treaty process with organisations and the state government. The end aim is to navigate agreements with Aboriginal traditional land owners on issues that can include water rights, reparation and language revival.

“It is a big step for Victorian Aboriginal people and it is a complex process but Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people can benefit, share and learn about our culture, language and experiences,” says Tiana.

Yarra’s motto remains firm inspiration for her, years after leaving the school.

“To me it means seeing beyond the horizon, rather than just looking at what is in front of you. It’s about keeping moving ahead and I carry that with me.

I also remember going to see the counsellor at Yarra to talk about careers, because I felt anxious –I didn’t know what I wanted to do then. He said ‘maybe the career you want to do doesn’t exist yet, so make up your own.’ That was one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve received.”

 

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