My whole life has been interesting and fun, sometimes sad but I always strive to ‘make a difference’.
My life’s journey has come the full circle and I love how that has happened without any rhyme or reason.
It was clearly meant to be!
If you would like to know more about me and how I have evolved .. read on!
My Childhood in Papua New Guinea
I began my life-long love for travel and adventure in Papua New Guinea.
My father was offered work in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
It was a time when work was hard to find so it was an easy decision for my parents.
We packed up our belongings, sold our house and moved to live in a small somewhat primitive town called Mendi in the Papuan highlands.
Through the eyes of a young child it was an extraordinary adventure and remember excitedly dressing for the flight – one always ‘dressed’ to travel in those days!
I arrived in Port Moresby distressed and crying because I had spilt my drink on my beautiful blue party dress. A catastrophe when one is 6!
Growing up in PNG was like a fairytale.
Every day was a new adventure. It was in Papua New Guinea that I first became aware of discrimination and human behaviour traits that even at my very young age, I believed were unfair.
Living in the remote highlands of PNG we learnt about village life as it was for the native Papuan & New Guineans.
For my sister and I, their world was not so different to ours although I was puzzled as to why we (the expat kids) went to one school and the PNG locals went to another. That was my first exposure to discrimination. I struggled to understand it.
My sister and I hung out with the village kids every afternoon.
We climbed trees, scrambled over the hills and played marbles, which mostly the other kids won! They were clever, made strategic decisions and played fairly. It was a time of equity, sharing and learning for all of us.
It was the perfect childhood!
Around that time a young man by the name of Kunima came to work for us as a ‘houseboy’ when he was about 16.
Kunima hadn’t ever gone to school and didn’t speak english but it wasn’t long before we learnt to speak a broken down language mix referred to as ‘pigeon english’ to communicate.
We discovered that Kunima had a world of knowledge about animals and birds which we were eager to learn. Above all, he was also eager to learn about us and our ‘Australian’ culture. It was a shared learning experience for us all.
We learnt to speak Kunima’s language, he learned ours, we learnt to make spears (not very well), we rescued baby animals at the markets destined for the cooking pot, we tended sick birds, told stories around an open fire and happily sang and danced in the rain.
It was an amazing place to grow up and I believe my values in life were shaped from those early days in Papua New Guinea.
Alice Springs completes the full circle
About 15 years ago I received an offer to work in Alice Springs.
After much deliberation I decided it was time for change and packed up my house, my kids and my dog and drove 3 days west – towards the Centre of Australia.
It was a pivotal move for our small family.
Everything was an adventure. Things were new and exciting as we learnt about Alice Springs and I felt an immediate connection with the desert country and the bold colours of the Red Centre.
I was hungry to learn
I took up a position with an Aboriginal Corporation in Alice Springs. There were over 250 staff in the organisation so it was a big role and I very quickly learned that the culture of Alice Springs was quite different to anywhere else I’d been previously.
I shared my morning tea breaks with Gerry, an older Aboriginal man who’d grown up in Alice Springs. Gerry was from one of the original Alice Springs family groups so was well respected in his community.
He generously gave so much of his knowledge that I began to understand some of the deeper challenges that were faced by the people in the Red Centre.
He talked to me about the hills and rocks that he climbed and explored when he was a young boy. He explained about the importance of traditional medicine to aboriginal people and the importance of the age-old stories that impacted on him as he grew into a young man.
Most of all Gerry talked about the impact of modern lifestyle changes and how they had a twofold effect for his people.
I looked forward to our talks each and every day and felt honoured to have been entrusted with these conversations.
Alice Springs was an ‘ah-ha’ moment in my life.
This quiet little town in the middle of nowhere has made such an impact on me personally.
I have a renewed understanding and deep respect for tradition and culture.
Despite my unusual childhood in remote Papua New Guinea, I feel that coming to live in the Northern Territory has been such an important part of my own self-development.
My purpose in life is to ‘make a difference’
My childhood days in Papua New Guinea has been instrumental in my need to question inequity and having gone through my life’s experiences, I feel proud that it has come the full circle.
Throughout the course of our lives, we each deal with many personal challenges.
We often think of these challenges as character building and pivotal in developing us into ‘who we are’. I believe it is the same when we cross paths with certain people. Some have a lasting impact.
I met a lady in Darwin some years ago who has inspired me in many ways. Sharing a glass of wine and conversation one night, she made a statement which struck a chord and will always stay with me.
We were talking about the challenges that we ourselves had faced at different times in our life when she commented, “You never know someone else’s journey“. How true and how tolerant we all should be of others in the course of our lives.
My work has always been about ‘making a difference’ in someone’s life and I will continue to take those opportunities wherever I can.
For the longest time since coming to the Northern Territory I have worked for organisations providing support and advocacy for disadvantaged groups, in particular vulnerable children and young people.
I have learned that I will always ‘speak up’ for those who need it most.