BACK TO THE PEOPLE
I was born and raised in Muswellbrook. All my family lived in Housing Commission. I went to the Catholic Primary School, then the Catholic High School. I got four brothers, no sisters between both lots. My dad was Dutch and Mum was Aboriginal and her family originally come from Walhallow, out Caroona way.
My mum’s family relocated here because my grandfather worked on railways. He was given an opportunity to transfer to a different area, so it was either come up to Muswellbrook or go to Armidale, and they ended up at Muswellbrook. Mum always seems to think maybe he chose Muswellbrook because it was a less populated Aboriginal area. Previously where they lived, there was racism and stigma and there was also the mission up there, and they already went through that. You know to go and visit his brother or my Nan’s sister they had to seek permission to go and visit because it was still very much the old ways. Whereas down here, it was new and fresh, there was not a lot of Aboriginal families.
In 2006, I graduated from Charles Sturt University which was great because that was in May and mum’s passing was in July, so she got to see me do that. The fact that I was 35, with 3 kids under my belt, working full-time at the time and was doing Uni, Mum was there to assist me to be able to do that. It was not something I ever thought I could achieve and she was really proud, we were all celebrating. That’s one of my main highlights, for Mum to get to see that because she helped me get through that process. Being the first person in the family to ever get a degree.
“It was not something I ever thought I could achieve.”