I grew up in Melbourne and as a young adult and mother in the 1980’s, mum, Joan and I were a part of a small group Aboriginal people who met regularly in private homes to share faith and Aboriginal spirituality. When the group successfully received funding from the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne for a headquarters I was offered the job as Coordinator of Aboriginal Catholic in Victoria. I liked it that much I stayed for 25 years until 2015. That’s because I could recognise strong the connection between Aboriginal ceremonies that had been conducted for many millennia and the ceremonies of the Church.
Through the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry and a couple of good friends, I was able to establish the Opening The Doors Foundation in 2001 to enable Aboriginal families to participate in the educational systems of their choice. Now independent of the ACM, the foundation is strong and proud to be the only foundation that walks with families from Prep to Year 12. I believe the reconciliation journey between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australian can be credited to our success. As we totally reply on philanthropy and donations, to continue to open the doors.
My other passion is education which led me to develop the Proud Race program, which invites schools to research and create life-sized bollards of inspirational Aboriginal people and erect them in school premises. The FIRE (Friends Igniting Reconciliation through Education) Carriers program also sought to embed the spirit of reconciliation with Catholic schools. Schools that make a commitment to the FIRE Carriers program elect student leaders to carry out the duties of FIRE Carriers and fundraise for OTDF.
My contribution to the Reconciliation process has been recognised in a number of awards, but my greatest honour, however, is not bestowed by such awards, it’s when people come to the land of my Ancestors at Lake Mungo to listen, learn and feel the spirit of the land.