January 11, 2017 Matilda Langford: My busy 2016 since the last WMBB Summer Program

Globally, 2016 felt like a pretty significant year. Many people I talk to have described it as a train wreck. While I won’t try to dispute this, I reckon it shouldn’t just be put down as a failure.

For me, 2016 began with challenges and inspiration. And it in no way stopped there. (I also hacked most of my hair off pretty early on but that’s another story).

As that second hand ticked over to start the year, I was on the beach. The year began with the best people around me, whom I’d only met 6 months before. New friends, proving to be true friends.


Two weeks later I was on a train headed to the WMBB Summer Program. This train unceremoniously dumped me in Sydney’s Central Station with the only known instruction: “Look for the people in the Uni’s Compass (?) shirts.”

Those next few days were honestly some of the best I’ve ever had. It not only connected me to my own, current generation of Aboriginal culture, but it also opened so many doors to things I previously couldn’t even comprehend coming true.

It taught me that I do have a future, that it’s within grasp, and by damn, it can be bright. The program filled me with a sense of hope; a feeling that still hasn’t left me almost a year later.

Matilda Talent Show

On the last night of the Summer Program I was lucky enough to win the Talent Battle, and with that title, an iPad. This made me realise that my creativity can be put to use; something I hadn’t properly understood until then.

Over the next few months I used the iPad (I had never had one before, and don’t have access to a laptop or computer at home) to further my interests in Visual Arts.


During April, I was able to become one of the founding member of DAYS (Deadly Aboriginal Youth Society). We work towards bettering the resources and experiences of other Aboriginal youth in my region.


Through my creative writing and poetry, I was also asked to be a part of a rap/spoken word group. This group consisted of four of us: Aboriginal youth who had shown potential in this area of performance.

Over the course of a few weeks our pieces were written and properly recorded. With a group track which focused on where we came from, whether it be geographically or mentally, and how that contributes to who we are now.


Yet, my greatest adventure this year began September 1st. Many described my next two months as: “The trip of a lifetime!”

I see it as only the beginning.

With my grandparents I travelled from Australia to Singapore, Dubai, Spain, France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, England and then to New York and San Francisco.


During this time I learned so much about the world. The true beauty and kindness of this planet. I learnt how to embrace each different culture and how to carry the idea of ‘home’ as a state of mind, rather than a place.

A lot happened during that time. The variation from what I was used to in my daily life really threw me out of my usual comfort zone, but I was quickly able to adapt and embrace each new place.


While this year was filled with an huge measure of wonder and hope, it also had its share of grief. Really, for the first time in my life, death has hit me. And many times at that. But this too has granted me a strength I am now familiar friends with.

Quite recently I began a two-year school based traineeship with MEGT and my host employer, ANZ bank. These traineeships at Bing are offered to Indigenous students all across Australia, and so far, I can say they are well worth it. (Even though it’s one of the main reasons I find myself working 7 days a week during the summer school break!)


This year has really been a big one, and this article hasn’t even begun to mention most of it. I was also diagnosed with dyslexia, learned how to do my taxes, got my Ls to drive, came 2nd in my Year 10 for photography and English, worked at the same cafe for the whole 12 months and hit a reflector post on my first drive.

But with 2016 now over and done with, we can only look to the future.

To begin 2017 with another WMBB Summer Program is something I am very grateful for. I look forward to the year ahead with a hopeful heart and a pretty much empty Planner.

If 2017 is anything like its former counterpart, I know I’m in for one hell of a ride.

Matilda Langford
is in Year 11 at Ulladulla High School