Despite the bad press associated with Boggabilla over the years there is one young woman who is proving that with dedication, passion and hard work anything is possible.
Meet Kiyah Missen, a 21-year-old who was born in Goondiwindi and grew up in Boggabilla.
She has a passion for Aboriginal rights and issues.
Kiyah attended the Goondiwindi State Primary School, Boggabilla Central School and graduated from Goondiwindi State High School in 2007.
The following year she made the move to Canberra.
“I love living in Canberra.
“Coming from a small town I don’t think I would have coped with moving to Brisbane or Sydney or somewhere like that.
“Canberra’s not massive and it is still a country town,” Kiyah said.
In 2008 she began studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in indigenous studies, so when a job came up with Reconciliation Australia, she applied.
She is now an assistant project officer.
“I applied for a job which complimented my studies nicely.
“Basically I was getting theory at university and the practical side in my job.”
She assists local and state government and community organisations to develop reconciliation plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Kiyah also coordinates the Bawaca program which gives people the opportunity to go out and learn about the indigenous culture.
Kiyah recently returned from a two-week forum in New York.
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an annual program where people from different states and countries provide advice and recommendations on economic and social issues in indigenous communities.
The recommendations get collaborated into a report and each member’s state receives a guideline.
Kiyah was asked to go as a youth delegate and as an observer.
“It was an absolutely phenomenal experience.
“I got to meet people from all over the world and discuss the same issues with them.
“It was an exhausting but amazing experience,” Kiyah said.
The two weeks included intense discussions from 8am to 6pm but Kiyah assures us she found some time for sightseeing.
She said the view from the top of the Empire State Building was like nothing she had ever seen before.
So why is reconciliation important to Kiyah?
“It’s who I am; I grew up in Boggabilla and I am proud of it,” she said.
And as for current issues facing Boggabilla and Toomelah, Kiyah can only hope she is helping in some way.
“With me being in Canberra and doing what I am doing, I really want to encourage the youth in the Boggabilla community to be successful.
“The social and economic issues facing these towns are the same issues we focussed on in the forum.
“Boggabilla is my home town; it’s where my family and community are.
“Both my parents grew up in Boggabilla and I am proud to say that I am a true reflection of them.
“We constantly have bad publicity about Boggabilla and I think the focus of news stories need to change.
“In order to change the perception of the place we need to hear more about the positive and encouraging stories that come out of the community.
“I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without having strong family support and growing up in Boggabilla.”
Kiyah is currently deferred from university but plans to continue her studies later in the year while still working with Reconciliation Australia.
“The work I currently do really fits in with my aspirations and passions,” she said.
“The entire experience of going to New York and being a part of the forum made me feel inspired and empowered to set goals and do what it takes to achieve them.” – By Brooke Bentley, Goondiwindi Argus