NAIDOC Week 2018: Shining a spotlight on Moree's inspirational women

This week has been all about celebrating the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and continue to make – to our communities, our families, our rich history and to our nation, as part of the 2018 NAIDOC Week theme, ‘Because of her, we can’. Over the past week, we’ve heard countless stories about some of the inspiring women in our community, so we’ve got in contact with just some of them to find out who inspires them and what ‘Because of her, I can’ means to them.

Cathy Budda-Deen

Manager of the Aboriginal Employment Strategy Moree

Why is it important to cast the spotlight on indigenous women?

Their resilience, their versatility, their love and compassion, their struggles for equality and the ongoing struggles they deal with everyday in life, work, and families. They are the backbone of our communities and this country.

For me, the greatest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is the lack of education and empathy we have in Australia for Aboriginal people and the attitude they just should get over it, is appalling. The indirect racism and unconscious bias I see and hear everyday, through work, sports, life and socialising.

The greatest joy is being apart of the Moree community and my family.

A woman I admire is my grandmother Margaret May Griffiths, my sister Debbie Wood who is always there for me. She inspires me, listens to me and guides me everyday. I also admire my daughter Jess, she is resilient and strong. I also remember as a young girl at school in Moree meeting ‘mum Shirl’ she was amazing. Another women in our community that I admire is Aunty Val Dahlstrom, she is a true leader.

Because of her, we can live our lives to the fullest, be educated, work, play and stand tall in our community and in this country.

Jessica Duncan

Career Recruitment Officer with the Aboriginal Employment Strategy Moree; Donate for Dignity founder

Why is it important to cast the spotlight on indigenous women? 

I believe that it is important to recognise all of the contributions that Aboriginal women have made and continue to make to our society as these achievements have been historically overlooked or undervalued. Women’s achievements have always been historically undervalued and even more so for women of colour, so within today’s society it is important to recognise the women who have went before us. I believe that Aboriginal women are the pillars and foundations of our communities because “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform”.

For me, the greatest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is being underestimated because of our sex or colour.

The greatest joy is the sense of empowerment that comes from proving others wrong and the bond we share with other women who are seeking to make a change.  

A woman I admire is my mother Cathy because she has achieved in all aspects of life. My mother has made wonderful achievements in her work life that have seen change for both our community and nationally. She has always been passionate about our people and community. My mother is very giving and dedicated and is always doing something for others. She always puts my brother and I first and is an excellent parent.

Because of her, we can dream, believe in ourselves and achieve. It is on the shoulders of our Elders and ancestors that we stand as they have forged the path that we now travel.

Colleen Tighe Johnson

Fashion designer and founder of Buluuy Mirrii

For me, the greatest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is breaking down barriers and creating pathways for the next generation.

The greatest joy is being able to showcase artwork telling the story of the Oldest Living People in the world by local artists on the global stage in the fashion world.

A woman I admire is my mother for her persistent in my upbringing and guiding me to pursue masking me to become the person I am today.

Because of her, we can and I did. 

Val Dahlstrom

Synergy’s Aboriginal liaison officer

For me, the greatest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is dealing with racism in the workforce. You had to put up with and cope with it, and if you were smart enough, learn to answer back. You had to be able to look after yourself and not get upset when people made those comments.

The greatest joy is looking at my family, my kids, my grandkids and my most beautiful grandkids. I think they’re all so smart and they’re all committed to making a difference to making a difference.

A woman I admire is Pat Turner. We were both on the bicentennial Aboriginal Committeee. I always thought she is incredibly smart.

Because of her, we can stand up and be counted and take those jobs that lead to further on. Look at Pat, she’s head of NACHO (National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) and she is able to stand up and look after herself and make a difference.

Tabitha Duncan

Teacher

Why is it important to cast the spotlight on indigenous women? 

To keep our culture alive and to also encourage the young to learn that they can achieve anything in life.

For me, the greatest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is knowing our Elders and where we come from.

The greatest joy is life and being able to love and care and be yourself and have a family.

A woman I admire is nan and mum because they are our elders. I also admire my family, especially my grandson and daughter.

Because of her, we can live, laugh, care, love and be safe and confident.

Shirley Duncan

Home duties

Why is it important to cast the spotlight on indigenous women?

Because they can show what they can do and be the person they want to be and show that they can achieve it. 

For me, the greatest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is being acknowledged as an Aboriginal woman.

The greatest joy is that I am Aboriginal.

A woman I admire is my mother because she showed me the way of life.

Because of her, we can learn a lot about Aboriginal women doing things for themselves and working in a lot of places.

Karen Newman

Aged care worker

Why is it important to cast the spotlight on indigenous women? 

Because it’s time for indigenous women to take a stand and to be the women they were born to be.

For me, the greatest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is standing up for what you believe in.

The greatest joy is being an Aboriginal woman and to know that I am loved unconditionally by my family.

A woman I admire is my mum. Because of her I can achieve any challenge in my life because she made me the woman I am today.

Because of her, we can overcome any obstacles which is coming our way from any direction.

Marilyn (Rosie) Newman

House keeper

Why is it important to cast the spotlight on indigenous women?

Because we are strong black women and it’s time for us to come together as one. 

For me, the greatest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is standing up for what I believe in.

The greatest joy is my children, grandchildren, sisters, brother and my mother.

A woman I admire is my mum. She’s the strongest Aboriginal woman I know because she loves everybody the same.

Because of her, we can overcome anything in my life.

Tasha McGrady-fing

House cleaner and customer service (retail)

Why is it important to cast the spotlight on indigenous women? 

It’s important to showcase our hidden talents and qualities and show society that we are strong, we are loud and proud indigenous women of the 21st century that has a voice that matters and needs to be heard.

For me, the greatest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is the barriers and labels that society puts on you because of the colour of my skin. I know who I am and where I come from. Because I am proud of who I am, I can overcome any obstacle in life.

The greatest joy is being a Christian woman, mum and grandmother.

A woman I admire is my mum, Normell Duncan nee McGrady; my nan, Mary Hickling and my aunty Beaty McGrady-Torrens.

Because of those ladies in my life, I can do anything. Because of her, I can. Because of the unconditional love, support, guidance, correction and discipline I am the woman I am today. These are the ladies in my life, the most influential and important women in my life.

Stacey

Cafe Gali manager

Why is it important to cast the spotlight on indigenous women? 

To get indigenous women to spread their wings and show everyone what they are capable of.

For me, the greatest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is having the power to exceed beyond any limit.

The greatest joy is being the best role model for my nieces and nephews.

A woman I admire is my mother. The admiration I have for this beautiful lady is above and beyond. She shaped me into who I am today.

Because of her, we can live the high-life.

Glenda Nicholls

Homemaker

Why is it important to cast the spotlight on indigenous women?

Because they are aunties, mothers and the backbone of families. 

For me, the greatest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is trying to get into the community with my illiteracy.

The greatest joy is my family— the way we were reared and that we protect each other.

A woman I admire is my mother Noreen Nicholls. She was my rock who helped me through some bad times. Mums love you no matter what.

Because of her, we can move forward in the community and move forward in my life.

Carolyn Porter

Grandmother and mother

Why is it important to cast the spotlight on indigenous women? 

Because Aboriginal women are the backbone of the family and rarely get recognition.

For me, the biggest challenge of being an Aboriginal woman is being treated as an equal in life.

The greatest joy is my children and my achievements.

A woman I admire is Betty French because she taught me how to be proud and strong, to never give up and to be proud of the skin I’m in.

Because of her, we can take on anything life has to throw at us.