Can I do more for my community?
How important is culture and NAIDOC week to you?
It’s really important to me and was a big part of my life growing up. I was actually one of the first children on the dance tour in the 1980s though the Woomera Aboriginal Corporation.
I think NAIDOC Week is a good time to reflect and celebrate our culture, and I really try hard to get culture back into our community.
As someone who works in community services in Mornington Island, we’re fighting a war against alcoholism and drug addiction. But I really believe that we also need to win the fight within ourselves before we’re able to help others.
Were there any women you inspired you in your life?
There were two women in my life who I can say were big influences on my life.
In the 1970s, Aunty Juno Gemes was a white lady and a local photographer. She inspired my love of classical music, art and culture. I actually found her through Facebook later in life as I wanted her to know the impact she had on my life.
Another woman who was hugely influence was Mrs Anna Benjamin, who was our Liaison officer in Mt Isa High School. Mrs Benjamin was an Aboriginal lady and married to Torres Strait Islander.
Mrs Benjamin was very kind to me and helped me a lot during this time. She also really cared about the women in my community. Mrs Benjamin took me under her wing at school and let me stay at her home when I needed a safe place to stay.
She meant a lot to me growing up, but I haven’t been able to track her down to let her know how influential she was in my life.
If you could give a message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women (or the wider community) this year, what would it be? Is there anything else that you would like people to know about women in our sector, for NAIDOC Week, or your work / organisation?
It’s important to think positive thoughts and do positive things. Don’t bring yourself down.
I focus on being happy and upbeat with the ladies I work with as that helps them feel comfortable and more likely to seek our help when they need it. Even if I have my own troubles or sadness, I leave all that baggage at the door and approach our clients with enthusiasm and positivity.
If I can help even just one person today, then I’ve made a difference, and that person might then have the strength to help someone else as well.