opinion

"She used to sleep with a crowbar under her bed." Mitch Tambo's mum showed him what strength is.

May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month and at Mamamia, we're sharing women's stories of bravery and courage. If you have the means, please donate to RizeUp to help women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence.

When I was growing up, I would often see TV shows, ads and so forth that were geared towards celebrating the nuclear family - a mum, dad and two or three kids. More often than not they were of Caucasian appearance and very “functional” citizens.

The dad would generally be a hard-working 9-5 man and the mother would be a stay-at-home mum tasked with cooking, cleaning and looking after the kids. 

However, this was not the reality in my household. I grew up with a then single mum, working hard to make ends meet from the time I was two in a housing commission area of Tamworth. 

Of course, I didn’t realise it at the time as a baby, but what my mum was about to show me for the best part of the next 22 years living with her was what true strength, commitment, discipline and unconditional love really looks like, throughout the good times and the bad. 

My mum was instrumental in shaping the man I am today. A proud Aboriginal woman, she showed me that there was - and is - so much more to women than what was generally being portrayed on TV and film screens without saying it. This helped me develop a deep respect for women.

Listen: Tanya Plibersek has been crucial in the conversation about violence against women. She speaks to Mia Freedman about what needs to change in our current culture. Post continues below.

My mum continually challenged herself to dream and achieve. I watched her, with the loyal support of my nan and pop, pursue lead roles in musicals whilst working late shifts managing a bar. I saw her then divert into education as an Aboriginal Educational Officer not long after pursuing a University Degree in Education. I proudly witnessed her becoming a high school teacher and the first person in our family to go to University.

This was all done alongside buying a house all on her own, while managing a son who was extremely active playing sports most nights of the week and trying to navigate the highs and lows of school and puberty at the same time. No easy feat! 

ADVERTISEMENT

My mum was my hero. She used to sleep with a crowbar under her bed because there were threatening male neighbours all around us, constantly drunk and in trouble with the law. We didn’t feel safe in our own community and she wanted to protect me at all costs.

She showed me the diverse abilities, capacity, strength, resilience and love that women are truly capable of. The qualities that we simply we don’t see enough of.

Mitch Tambo with his mother (left) and wife Lele.

The reality is that women like my mum are the true warriors of our communities. In fact, in my own First Nations culture, within the Gamilaraay belief system, women are at the top of the chain within a matriarchal society. 

Growing up with my mum indirectly showed me that we must choose to challenge how we see and perceive women. Men also have a responsibility to challenge the system, uplift women and forge a way forward where we are happy to see women in higher work roles, calling the shots and being paid comparably for their skill sets.

Many of the songs I have written recognise the importance of love and respect. But the song which has personally made enormous impact on me is my new single 'Dreamtime Princess' which I wrote to challenge the current overrepresentation of domestic violence within Aboriginal communities.

Aboriginal women, dependent upon location, are 35-80 times more likely to be hospitalised due to domestic violence than any other women from any culture on the planet. My hope for this deeply personal song is that listening to it will uplift and celebrate First Nations women.

These women have historically throughout the centuries been seen as royal queens, and that’s how they should still be perceived. I hope that by looking at these women with respect and reverence, we can continue the conversation around ‘choosing to challenge’ and revering the women in our lives, no matter what their circumstance. 

Much love to all the women in my life and to all women everywhere. Particularly, my mum. 

Mitch Tambo’s new single Dreamtime Princess is out now.

Image: Supplied.