What is your current role?
My current role is General Manager of the Koori Mail newspaper, Australia’s only fortnightly national Aborginal and Torres Strait Islander newspaper. 100% Aboriginal-owned and run.
How did you begin working for the Koori Mail?
I started working for the Koori Mail when I was 14 years of age. I was in the middle of grade 10 and felt the school environment wasn’t for me. I was bullied and became frustrated and aggressive and knew that I wasn’t thriving as a student in the school environment. I loved learning, but I guess I was just meant to gain knowledge in a different way to most. So, I accepted an offer to take up a traineeship with the Koori Mail in 1998. My first job, and first experience in the workforce. I started out doing all the basics … and things no one likes to do – making tea and coffee, changing the toilet rolls and licking stamps. Doing the photocopying and filing and answering phones.
Even at a young age, as a young Indigenous girl in the workforce, I made sure I tried my best to learn as much as I could, because ultimately, I made a choice to give up my education, but can honestly say that being a young person in the workforce gave me the best education I could have ever received.
I stayed with the Koori Mail for 10 years until 2008. By then I had worked in every department of the organisation from administration to advertising, editorial and subscriptions. I made the most of every opportunity throughout those first 10 years in Indigenous media. From 2008 I explored other opportunities including working for NITV and other Indigenous media organisations.
In 2016 I was offered the role of General Manager of the Koori Mail. I gladly and proudly accepted, and my career journey with the Koori Mail has come full circle, where I am now able to lead the organisation.
What professional achievement are you most proud of?
I think overall, my 24 years’ working in the Indigenous media and Indigenous community development sectors has been an achievement. I’m 39 years of age and have thrown myself into so many open doors and opportunities over the years to continue to learn everything I can and gain knowledge, to listen and learn from those that have come before me.
I am proud to say that I have dedicated most of my adult life to working for my people. If I had to choose a stand-alone achievement, I think it would be my nomination for Chairperson of First Nations Media Australia – the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Media in Australia.
Who has influenced or mentored you?
I have had so many role models cross my paths over the years. Anyone who has been doing the work, and fighting for our people and communities is someone that has influenced me.
My mentors have been strong Indigenous women in our communities such as Rhoda Roberts, and women including Kirstie Parker (Former Koori Mail Managing Editor), who have shown me what strong Indigenous female representation looks like in the media sector.
Recently I was privileged to work with Aunty Dot West, a trailblazer for Indigenous media and film and television. I come from a strong line of fiercely capable women including my grandmother and my mother.
I am surrounded by so many young women who – though older than them, I am learning from them each day. They are forces to be reckoned with. The Indigenous matriarchy in our communities around the country is so resilient and still so very present.
What is something no one knows about you?
I am a diehard Scarface fan and I once half-filled an application for the show Farmer Wants A Wife.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered since the Lismore-Bundjalung Country flooding?
Accepting that political agendas will always be the reason why or why not when it comes to responding to times of crisis in this country. And because of these cowboy stand-offs of power and control within government, the greater challenge then is us doing their job and taking on that responsibility from the ground up as a community, with zero support and resources.
But we did it. We’ve been doing it. And we’ve proven that Indigenous people and communities have always been capable of self-determining what care for our people looks like during a crisis.
What does the immediate future hold?
Ensuring the sustainability of our Koori Mail flood relief hub for those who will be in need for many months to come, and re-commencing production and operations for the Koori Mail, with our first edition back from the floods, on the shelves on April 20. Also, working on a First Nations First Response model, based on our experiences as an Indigenous organisation leading the recovery efforts for our Bundjalung nation during the floods – that can be the foundation for a national Indigenous emergency response framework.
Describe a perfect day in your role
My staff walk through the doors of our office feeling valued and knowing that they are in a culturally safe environment. Our people dialling in or sending emails knowing we are a trusted source of authentic storytelling, carrying the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.
How have you stayed safe while navigating a natural disaster?
Our holistic approach to recovery for our communities and self-care for our volunteers, is ensuring we are caring for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being throughout these past five to six weeks. The support we are providing victims of the flood from our communities, is also available for everyone on the ground running our relief hub. Also, lots of coffee.
How can people best support the Koori Mail Rebuild Fund?
We have an account set up for donations to the Koori Mail Rebuild Fund. Monies raised will go directly towards the repairs of the offices.
To donate to the Koori Mail Rebuild Fund: National Australia Bank, BSB: 082707, ACC: 204092939.