Dakota Ardler

Dakota is a proud Indigenous woman from Wreck Bay,

She was nominated by Wreck Bay Community Council for an SBAT with Gudjahgahmiamia Day Care. As part of her SBAT she works one day a week and has time at school to complete her education towards her certificate. Dakota loves working with the children at the day care centre and being a member of the Gudjahgahmiamia team. Sarah has been a wonderful leader and mentor for Dakota. She finds the modules difficult but with the support of Aunty Gai, Mrs Karen Lane and Bree she will complete her qualification.

Birth Certificate: Dakota Ardler

As part of Dakota’s SBAT, she completes at least one day of paid work per week. She was very excited about having her own money to spend and the independence this would bring. She needed to organise herself a birth certificate and a bank account. She embarked on this with the support of her family, Aunty Gai and myself and after a few attempts to lodge the information online with no luck, we went into Services NSW Nowra to lodge the application for her birth certificate. We were so excited walking out of there, we even paid extra money to receive the birth certificate within 8 days not 14. We left and waited, and after 8 days of hearing nothing we rang Births, Deaths and Marriages. They told us we would need to complete extra paperwork and they would send it out in the mail. Dakota was devastated about the prospect of having to wait even longer to get her birth certificate. Meanwhile, Dakota is working at Gudjahgahmiamia each week and getting paid by them but is unable to access any of her pay. The following week we received the paperwork from Births, Deaths and Marriages and she and Emma (Aboriginal Education Worker from Vincentia High School) went to work on completing it.

This was a painful process she needed to get extra information from her parents and additional documents — at this point she was almost ready to give up. Emma, Aunty Gai and I had to encourage her to keep going, I think she was almost at the stage of quitting everything: school, her SBAT and not worrying about getting her birth certificate or organising a bank account. Another week passed and we had all the documents we needed. Emma and Dakota walked over to the Vincentia Market Place Post Office to lodge her information. We were in a waiting game again. After another few days we rang Births, Deaths and Marriages to see if they had received our papers. Unfortunately they had not. We said we would ring back in another two days. Dakota was again at the stage of giving up but we stayed strong and we rang them again, this time they said they had received the papers but could not find our original birth certificate application. They told us to be patient! OMG this process had now taken us about 6 months. So again after another few days we rang Births, Deaths and Marriages they still told us we needed to wait, so I decided we needed to give them a little bit more of a nudge to get the ball rolling and I asked to speak to the supervisor. I explained our situation and told them we really needed this birth certificate. Dakota had never seen me a little angry so she was a little shocked I was so passionate about her getting her birth certificate. After another few phone calls that day they gave us a date and said her birth certificate would be in the mail by 14 May and this time we had a tracking number. We were super excited.

Dakota watched the tracking of her birth certificate as it moved through the various stations of Australia Post. It was due to arrive Friday 17 May and it was coming to the Sussex Inlet Post Office. Dakota was coming to Sussex Inlet that afternoon to stay with her boyfriend’s family, however I was not able to make it home that day, so we organised for my husband to retrieve it from the Post Office and I organised for her to pick it up from my house in Sussex Inlet. Dakota rang me for the directions to my house and as I directed her to my house I remained on the phone with her. I could hear her approaching my front door and my husband came out and I heard him say, “You must be Dakota Ardler, here is your mail, congratulations”. She said to me, “I’ve got it” and I said, “Okay open it, let’s see if it’s the real thing?” and then she opened it and it was. We were both screaming!!! We were so excited. I almost cried. Dakota then asked me where I was, I said, “I’m in the carpark at Woolworths Vincentia”. It was such a great feeling. We had done it, the following Monday we made an appointment with the Commonwealth Bank to open her a bank account. Our appointment was Tuesday at 11 am. The next step was for Dakota to access her pay and this happened the following week. She received over $1000 into her bank account. Dakota paid for her sister to travel down south that weekend. She is a beautiful girl with a great future ahead of her.

Story contributed by Maree McNeil from Vincentia High School. Published in 2019.