Toumanda Fohrman has faced struggles coming to terms with her cultural identity as she’s grown up. But support from her mother and her Aboriginal community have empowered her to find confidence and strength in her Aboriginality.
Today, the Year 12 student from St Joseph’s, Albion Park has aspirations to pursue a career where she can give back to her Aboriginal community and help others like her find their own purpose and sense of belonging.
In celebration of NAIDOC Week and this year’s theme, ‘Because of her, we can!’, we spoke to Toumanda about her journey in a three-part audio interview below...
FINDING COMMUNITY AND IDENTITY
Listen to Toumanda on understanding her cultural identity and how she found a sense of belonging through dance.
Toumanda has been going to dance classes since she was little, but it was the opportunity to combine her passion for dancing with her Aboriginal culture that really provided her a meaningful opportunity to learn and thrive.
“I have been heavily involved in traditional Aboriginal and contemporary dance for several years now. I’ve trained under the Bangarra Rekindling Program and NAISDA Garaburra Ngurra, and performed at Barangaroo, the National Museum and many other prominent places,” Toumanda says.
“Dancing has helped me in so many ways. I’ve been able to learn so much about our culture through dance and stories, and from that grew opportunities to talk and connect with other Aboriginal people, Elders and communities. It’s a really spiritual experience and it’s connected me to the land and who I am.
“I’m now able to say I’m a proud Worimi, Bundjalung woman."
"I’ve learned it’s not about my physical appearance or how others perceive me - it’s about how I perceive myself and the spiritual connections to culture that I have.”
PURSUING CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
Listen to Toumanda on how she’s represented her Aboriginal community while at school, her career hopes and her plans to give back.
ALSO: Listen to St Joseph’s Albion Park Principal, Amanda Wilson, on Toumanda as a student and having her work as an Aboriginal Education Assistant at the school next year [1:12].
Toumanda has pursued many opportunities to further both her learning and a stronger formation of her cultural identity. She is an AIME Ambassador and has been Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in the NSW Youth Parliament. She attended the NSW Schools Constitutional Convention and was a national finalist for NSW in this year’s Aboriginal Model Search.
After graduating, Toumanda plans to go to university and study: “I want to become a forensic psychologist, working with Aboriginal people within the corrective services,” she says.
While she studies, Toumanda will work as an Aboriginal Education Assistant in our CEDoW system - something her principal at St Joseph’s, Amanda Wilson, is looking forward to.
“Toumanda is an impressive young lady who has ambitions to further the wellbeing of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. She has an amazing skill set to be shared and her passion for her culture is so evident in everything she does,” Ms Wilson says.
MY MUM: “BECAUSE OF HER, I CAN!”
Listen to Toumanda speak about her mum and the key role she’s played in Toumanda’s journey of discovery.
Toumanda is quick to pay tribute to her mum for helping her get to where she is today. A generous and passionate worker in community services herself, she has given Toumanda the guidance and strength to persevere with her connections to culture and with a career where she’s contributing to the community.
“My mum’s been so important in helping shape my identity. She’s been so supportive and encouraging of me being involved in community and helping others,” Toumanda says.
Read more about CEDoW’s NAIDOC celebrations here - including a message from the Director and a video from students across the Diocese who pay tribute to the incredible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in our CEDoW community, inspired by this year's NAIDOC theme: Because of her, we can!