Our history and heritage

Support and nurture through culture and dance

Jodie Welsh, founder and artistic director of Brolga Dance Academy, looks back at the building blocks of her life.

Jodie Welsh, founder and artistic director of Brolga Dance Academy. Photo: Trent White

This article is part of a series by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living and working on Gadigal land. The series, a joint project of South Sydney Herald and the City of Sydney, is curated by Wiradjuri woman Aunty Norma Ingram.

My name is Jodie Welsh and I am a proud Gamilaroi and Murrawarri woman born and raised on Gadigal country in the Redfern community. I am a mother of 5 fabulous children who stand strong in their culture and whom I draw my strength from.

Jodie Welsh, founder and artistic director of Brolga Dance Academy. Photo: Trent White
Jodie Welsh, founder and artistic director of Brolga Dance Academy. Photo: Trent White

I went to Canterbury Girls High School which I loved and embraced as it was a multicultural school of so many students. I got to learn about their cultures, and I also loved to share my Aboriginal culture.

While I loved school it wasn’t until my senior years that I really started to take education seriously. I loved sports, arts and culture. Unfortunately, it was only in years 11 and 12 that I was able to undertake Aboriginal studies in high school and that was at Cleveland High and then Canterbury Boys High.

I was the student who pushed for Aboriginal studies in my school because while I was learning about other languages and cultures there was no opportunity for myself and other students to learn about the oldest living culture in the world.

My family, whose last name is Welsh, moved to Redfern from Gunnedah when my mother was young. My grandfather, Raymond Welsh, was a very hard worker and was able to buy a 6 bedroom home in Newtown, which was great for his large family.

I draw my family and work ethic from loving and humble grandfather Raymond.

Indeed, my family has been involved in Aboriginal and local politics in the Redfern area, which has also strongly influenced me and my journey.

My mother Marjorie was one of the first Aboriginal trained nurses to work at the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) and my Aunty Kerry was always involved in Aboriginal health and dental with the AMS. Kerry also worked in palliative care at Bankstown Hospital.

My uncles were involved in the Aboriginal land rights movement and National Parks and Wildlife.

I’m very proud of my family who are hardworking and have strongly contributed to the local community.

My passion has always been in arts and culture and the opportunity to empower and create pathways and opportunities for young people.

I’ve put all my passions into creating a business that provides access to learning, and supports and nurtures our young people with culture and dance in particular. I would love to see all young people engaged, learning and sharing our culture. This is the essence of Brolga Dance Academy.

This article originally appeared in the South Sydney Herald.

Learn more about Aboriginal culture and history at the Sydney Barani website.