"Live your life, don't just exist," is the mantra of Cheryl Moggs, who has been named a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal for service to the indigenous community.
"We shouldn't just be living day-to-day or week-to-week," she says. "What will people say about you when you pass over? Have you made something of yourself? Have you been a good role model within your community?
"My message to anyone in regional or remote communities, who have been disadvantaged or disengaged, is that it is possible to succeed. It is possible to make a difference if you take the opportunities. And people will help you achieve your goals."
Cheryl grew up in a tin hut with no electricity or running water and a dirt floor on the riverbank at the Toobeah Reserve but she never gave up on her dreams. She has been committed to her personal development, and to being a good role model for her family and community.
"Don't just dream it; achieve it," she said. It may take a long time but you will get there. You may take many paths but it will lead to something in the end. Learn to accept no and have a go. That's what we do in Australia. We are resilient and passionate.
"There are many more resources and support systems now than I had available at a younger age but I always wanted to have something I valued and mainly that is having a social justice conscience for everyone."
The Community Justice Group co-ordinator with Care is a representative for Bigambul People with the Goondiwindi Regional Council and is also the owner and creator of Cre8tive Mix.
Cheryl has been a teacher of Indigenous Visual Arts, Natural Resource Management and Culture disciplines in TAFE Queensland, Educational Queensland, Communities, Queensland Universities and Correctives Services for 16 years, and was also the manager of the Indigenous Unit, Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE in 2005.
She was the winner of the National NAIDOC Poster Competition in 2018; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award at the Australia Day Awards for Toowoomba Regional Council in 2014; and a finalist in the 100 Women of Influence Awards, Australian Financial Review, last year.
Read more about that here:Indigenous leader, Cheryl, is a national woman of influence
Cheryl says this award is not only for her but recognition for our local communities. "All of this wouldn't have happened without the support of many around me, in all those roles across QLD," she said. "For over 25 years I have worked in that space with a lot of communities and a lot of major stakeholders.
"I would like to thank you all for your wonderful support and commitment to the Community Justice Program, Bigambul, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for working with me. Thanks for the amazing projects, achievements and progress in our communities which have certainly been made possible because of you," she said.
The award will be a fitting farewell for Cheryl as she prepares to move to Brisbane in March. "I'm going out with a bang," she laughed.
"I am not leaving my community behind, just stepping out. I will check back in at a later date, and at this point, I'm not sure what that means. But I am off to spend time with my children and grandies, develop my artistic practice further, travel, take up studies in Textile Design and sleep in every morning if I can.
"I've always been about others so to now have the opportunity to follow my dreams is pretty special. I'm really excited. And I couldn't think of a better thing to receive as a send-off."