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Studio portrait photograph of Bernadette Black.

Supporter of teenage parents
2019 Australian of the Year | Tasmania

As a teenage mother, Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Black experienced the stigma associated with teenage pregnancy. In response to the lack of information and support available for teen parents, she established Brave Foundation to provide resources and education opportunities. She strives to build a ‘village of support and acceptance’ so that teenage parents can grow healthy, happy families.

Brave Little Bear manuscript and book

Bernie became pregnant when she was 16 years old. As a teenage mum she faced judgement from strangers and a sense of isolation from her peers, but she was determined to shape her own future. As Bernie’s Year 10 teacher said, ‘The journey might be different now but the destination can remain the same’.

Bernie made herself three promises: to be a good mother, complete her education and to write a book to help other teen parents. This manuscript and book are the result of that promise to share her story.

Book standing beside the open pages of a typed manuscript.

Manuscript and book from Bernadette Black

Bravery in action

I had a vision that every expecting and parenting teen would have the same access to education and support as any other Australian teen or parent. My starting point was writing my book, Brave Little Bear, which is the meaning of my name, Bernadette. This original manuscript is complete with true copy-and-paste paragraphs, my children’s scribble and grocery notes.

A chance to shine

Young people have high hopes, dreams and aspirations for themselves and their children. But for many, knowing how to reach them has been the difficult part. By creating pathways for young people who are experiencing vulnerability, you not only give them the support to shine but enable social prosperity and economic prosperity too. Not just for them but for all of us.

Advance Australia

I believe every Australian has within them, the power to be brave, we just need pathways to show us how to develop that bravery … Let’s be brave and give true belief to the second verse of our nation’s anthem, advancing the culture of a nation for all. With courage (and bravery!) let us all combine to Advance Australia Fair.

This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the National Australia Day Council. Portrait images courtesy National Australia Day Council.

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