Tyrone Bean, AILC 21st Anniversary Dinner 15 October 2022

 Below is a copy of AILC alumnus, Tyrone Bean's, speech presented on 15 October 2022

I would just like to take this time to acknowledge Traditional Custodians of this land where we meet, the Ngunnawal and my grandmother Matilda House Ngambri people. I acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded. I like to acknowledge their elders in the dreaming, alongside us and coming up after us. I feel your spirit.


Before getting stuck into this speech, I would like to take a moment of silence to acknowledge our Sorry Business that we all might be going through most recently and ongoing. In Cherbourg, a couple nights ago, I lost my nephew to suicide, he was 16.

Ngara ngamkalim

Goomba Daru? O ngabula wil Tyrone, Kabi Kabi, Wakka Wakka, Nughi of Moorgumpin, Bindal and Wulgurukaba of north and southeast Queensland.

Hi how are you? My name is Tyrone. I am Kabi Kabi, Wakka Wakka, Nughi of Moorgumpin, Bindal and Wulgurukaba of north and southeast Queensland. I am Kabi Kabi, Wakka Wakka and Nughi of Moorgumpin through my grandfather Bill Glenbar and my great grandparents Agnes Glenbar and Willy Nuggin. I am Bindal and Wulgurukaba through my grandmother Iris Glenbar (Bell). I acknowledge my lineage however speak for Kabi Kabi. My Grandfather is a recognised applicable Traditional Owner of Kabi Kabi and Wakka Wakka. At the start of last year, he passed on all our Kabi Kabi family responsibilities on to me. I am now an emerging elder and current Traditional Owner. However, if any North Queensland mob out there tonight, please come up and say hi I’d love to meet you.

 My Tongue is my spear. My spear is my pride. And I am proud to be - Kabi Kabi, Wakka Wakka, Nughi of Moorgumpin, Bindal and Wulgurukaba.

I have always said two things: I am the luckiest person alive because of all the incredible people I have around me, I am a product of all these incredible people. So thank you for having me a part of your night, I am humbled, honoured and lucky.

I am here tonight standing in front of you as an AILC Alumnus from 15 years ago. I am representing my peers; young First Nations peoples who have always been proud of who we are, never not once known otherwise, and always navigating multiple worlds; being as culturally connected and strong yet remaining in touch with the Western world.

I remember my time at AILC so vividly. I just got back from South Africa after captaining the under 16s Flying Boomerangs team. I shared a room out in a township with Jason McCartney, the kangaroo’s legend who was a Bali Bombing survivor and one of the coaches. We spoke about all thing’s leadership and the potential that I have. We came back to Australia a day before the National apology and to complete our trip, we undertook this course. I knuckled down, engaging with the content and wanted to lead by example to my teammates and peers. I made it a top priority for not only myself, but for all of us and I along with my team ended up completing certificates in Indigenous Leadership. Little did I know, this piece of paper would be my first qualification of many.

I was born too black for the white kids and too white for the black kids. Growing up This led to many complications and my first taste of living in multiple worlds. I am the first in my family to finish year 10, and then to complete year 12 after receiving a sports scholarship to attend Melbourne Grammar School. My first day of year 10 a teacher told me that I was at least four years behind basic literacy and numeracy. This became apparent due to spending quality time back home and missing regular school alongside a system that didn’t represent me. I was actually unenrolled from math, English and science and was told that school isn’t for me and that sport (AFL or Cricket) and a trade as a backup was my options. These limitations have helped shape me. These hands are the most moisturised hands you’ll see/touch that the thought of holding a hammer gives me blisters and probably leads to an OHS issue with tools being thrown around on the worksite. When I say I completed school, I am fairly sure I failed year 12. I got into Melbourne Uni through a bridging course to start studying a Bachelor of Arts.

Now here is a classic story, and I will try not be one of those uncles but we all have one.

As a young athlete I did everything you could do except get signed. I played Vic metro, captained the flying boomerangs, played Vic Cricket and represented the Australian Indigenous Cricket side at 15. I had a player manager, trained with AFL clubs but then tore my acl in the grand final of the Koori Knockout in my draft season.

I rehabbed came back to play VFL the next season and then needed heart surgery. I again got through this, rehabbed and returned for the next VFL season. I started to play good football with my manager calling me on a Friday night saying that the club most interested in me is flying to Melbourne early next week, wanting to meet up and to train with the fellas again. The next day I tore my ACL. My coping mechanism lead me to become a substance abuser. I had failed my peers, family, community and people.

I again found myself in the middle of both worlds with my identity as an athlete all but taken away from me and trying to study whilst still being four years behind literacy and who knows how far behind in basic numeracy whilst being off country.

I didn’t learn how to read or write until I was 23. The year I completed my Bachelor of Arts at a whopping 51%. A three-year Degree taking five years. I then needed a path forward because I later found out a Bachelor of Arts isn’t really a job guarantor, and I wasn’t ready to enter the workforce. Note moisturised hands.

I went down the pathway of Teaching. Melbourne Uni only accepted me whilst being on an academic probation. I ended up completing my Master of Teaching by research with my thesis titled “Thriving not surviving: Exploring the notions of success and cultural identity in urban boarding school opportunities for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students”. Essentially coming to a conclusion that the programs I was and many others apart of is a continuation of past political agendas, removing children off country to go to school. This lead to being offered a spot to continue research in the form of a PhD. As stoked as I was to have my academic transcript acknowledged, I happily declined as I wanted to get work experience. I worked at Wesley College in the Yiramalay program and only lasted a year as I found that place unsafe for mob both students and staff. I was treated as a grad and got told by the head of the program that I needed to go to Fitzroy crossing to know what it’s like to be on a mission, my response being “I was raised on country and in Cherbourg” to only receive the “oh but you’re different” reply. There are many more stories to share, however tonight is about me and not them.

I transferred to Trinity Grammar School as the Indigenous program coordinator and lasted two years. I openly disagreed with how they were receiving First Nations youth and believed the system was not only a cash grab but most importantly setting up these young people to fail. I called out racism from the transition school we had a connection with and was disciplined then later uninvited from First Nation Education meetings. Imagine that, living as a Kabi Kabi man, attending boarding school, researching boarding schools, taught in boarding schools and now leading a program in boarding school yet you’re not a part of the decision-making processes of our mob. Backwards in every logical scenario.

I opened up the staff handbook one day and looked at everyone’s qualifications to see how I can be better. In my mind the most colonised degree you can study is an MBA. I only saw the director of finance at Trinity with an MBA, so I decided to give it a go. Last year I began and then completed an MBA in a 12-month intensive year. I was sitting there mid-year with $2500 left in my bank account and needed cash fast. So I googled MBA Scholarships. This consulting firm named Boston Consulting Group had a scholarship available with the requirements being:

have you had work experience ✅

Are you studying a business degree ✅

Do you need money ✅✅

I bombed out at the first interview.

The next day I googled then cold called their competitors thinking that if BCG have money, their competitors must. I spent my last $2500 on a math and case study tutor for the McKinsey and Company 15-week interview timeline. Roughly for everyone one position open, roughly 1000 apply, globally. It contained three screenings, nine interviews and an online game to test my strategy. I kept making it through to the next round until finally receiving a call to state that I have been offered a spot. Man.

I stand here now in front of you as an emerging elder and Traditional Owner who is the first and only recognised First Nations person at McKinsey (I know there has been at least one before me). I have been here for 10 months and have entered the western decision-making arena. I have changed the firm significantly through our client outcomes and through creating space for our mob in the forms of a yarning tour, leadership and education programs and regular cultural insight education (which all aren’t apart of my job description. But you know how we go, we have a cultural load and responsibility, thinking seven generations ahead). I walk into every room knowing that I have 70000+ years running through my veins. I know the responsibility that I have, and with humility, I accept.

Not bad for someone who couldn’t read or write seven years ago.

This story is not mine; it is shared. I am walking as successfully as possible in multiple worlds. I do also openly live with depression and anxiety but have implemented measures to ensure that I am okay for sustained periods of time. I am no longer identified as someone chasing a football dream and something I am proud to have overcome.

I want our elders in the room to know that everything will be alright. Trust the right young people to get this job done. Trust me that I will continue to break down these barriers and forge paths for our future elders. Trust I will continue to represent our people in places we’ve never been before and will push boundaries to bring us all together. I will put the best interest of our people at the forefront of every decision-making arena. Because I am standing on the shoulders of giants before me, and that’s you. So Thank you for passing on the baton and trusting me to run this race with you.

If you’re someone close to me, you would know that I never sit back and reflect and give time to any of my accomplishments. So you are all here as witnesses tonight, this is the first time I have ever reflected on my journey, acknowledge and accept my accomplishments. It was only a few weeks ago I was awarded the MBAustralasia Community Impact Award. I have now colonised the coloniser.

As I look back to the day, I received my cert 3 and 4 in Indigenous Leadership when I was 16, I never thought I would become the man I am today and standing here in front of you having this yarn. I thank everyone who continue to support and believe in me. I am me because of you.

I have always said two things: I am the luckiest person alive because of all the incredible people I have around me, I am a product of all these incredible people.

My name is Tyrone. My Tongue is my spear; my spear is my pride; and I am proud to be Aboriginal. Thank you