Profiles of an Indigenous members of Gandu Jarjum
My name is Amanda Power and I am a Pangarang woman, a Koori from around Shepparton way. I was born in Melbourne but have lived in Queensland nearly all my life.
My desire to help my people started... I think... when I was in primary school as I hated my primary school life. I would come home crying about being called black names and my gubba/migaloo father was no better than all the gubba/migaloo teachers at school. No one seemed to understand or care about me or my identity as a black child trying to make sense of my life. As I grew my father and I fought over my ideas and what I felt I needed in life and what he believed I needed. He had big dreams for me and without saying the words he wanted me to act and be white so I could achieve them. I know now that deep down he was doing what he thought was best for me, and as it turned out it worked but maybe not quite the way he wanted. You see with him pushing me away from my culture and my feelings inside he actually made them stronger and fueled the fire inside me to let people know how wrong the system is to my people, and I also accomplished what he wanted me to in 1996 – which was to go to uni and get a good job.
Along the path I took to complete that I involved myself in Indigenous education, I did a prac at Woorabinda, participated in the Laura Woman’s Conference and had an article printed in the Journal ‘Aboriginal Child At School’. I remember thinking how do you change these problems – the issues are so big, but it has led me to challenge my Principals and other teachers about what they do and to ensure that I taught aspects of my culture in my classroom and not just during NAIDOC week.
I first heard of Gandu Jarjum while I was teaching in Bowen when a member at that time saw what I was doing in the school and talked to me about what Gandu Jarjum does to help Indigenous education. I thought it was another step in helping me learn what I could do so I became an additional Indigenous member at that time.
Presently, I am the Indigenous member for the Central Queensland region and loving it. Gandu Jarjum gives me the opportunity to not only help suggest changes, but also informs me of any new decisions made on Indigenous education so I can take that back to my school and region and inform them of these changes which is then slowly but surely helping all our children at school – giving them a better primary and high school life than I had with more opportunities, understanding and pride in themselves.
I am a descendant from the Kutjala and Kalkadoon tribes of North Queensland. I am a member of Gandu Jarjum and represent the QTU on the Indigenous Committee of the QSA. I live in Weipa and thoroughly enjoy living and working in the Cape.
I am currently a Community Learning Engagement Officer for the Parents as First Teachers project at Western Cape College, Weipa campus. This is a pilot project and supports parents of the Napranum community. I’ve taught in Townsville, Yarrabah, Aurukun, Mapoon, and Weipa over the 28 years that I’ve been with EQ. I’ve been a principal, assistant co-ordinator, officer-in-charge, and education officer, special duties. In my other life I have an interest in Montessori and have doe training in Sydney and attended several Montessori International Conferences in Sydney and Rome. I am a member of the Cape York Community Health Council for Queensland Health.
The main reason I became involved in the Union is that during Teachers College I did an assignment on Wave Hill. I learnt of how unions around Australia supported the Gurindji people. Since then I have always been impressed by the union movement’s support for Indigenous peoples.
My name is Deborah Belyea and I am a proud Torres Strait Islander of Saibai Island and Dauan island descent. My clan totems include the Samu (cassowary), Koedal (crocodile) and Dhoeybau (wild yam leaf). My family names are Anu (Saibai) and Mooka (Dauan).
I am currently working at Tagai State College, Thursday Island Secondary Campus as the Head of Department (English/SOSE) and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and English teacher.
I really enjoy working with the kids and community up here as it is a beautiful part of the world. Apart from teaching I enjoy sailing, reading and painting.
I decided to join Gandu Jarjum to become part of a voice for our community and children within education.
My name is Margaret Malezer. I am of the Gubbi Gubbi and Kamilaroi peoples and I was born and raised in Brisbane.
My passion as an Early Childhood Educator was to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children had access to a culturally safe learning environment that enhanced their learning capabilities and ensured a positive transition into the early years of schooling.
I have had the pleasure of working in the Far North Regions for eighteen years. I continue to maintain a high level of interest in all issues impacting on our teachers and students and continue to advocate with a strong voice on the rights and equitable representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers in decision making forums within schools and the Queensland Teachers' Union.
I have been a member of Gandu Jarjum for the past eight years.
My positions in the Union are:
Current Chair of Gandu Jarjum
Secretary/Treasurer Beaudessert Branch
School Rep Jimboomba
AEU/AEU ATSIEC Rep/Committee member
In 2001 I was the first Indigenous person to undertake the Indigenous workshadowing program. This was the most awesome experience and it enabled me to gain confidence to nominate for QTU positions.
Attending AEU Conferences as an observer and then as a delegate has also helped me to have a better understanding of the national issues around education.
The ATSIEC Committee is a group of people from the states and territories who come together twice a year and have many teleconferences to discuss national issues. This experience has been invaluable in helping me to maintain my enthusiasm to continue in the position that I hold.
I would encourage all our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members to become involved in your Union on any level.
Hi everyone, I’m James Matysek. My family is originally from Erub in the Torres Strait and I’m very proud to be a union member for all of my working life.
I have been teaching at the Northern Peninsula Area College, 7-12 campus in Bamaga for the last eight years. Currently I teach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies to our senior students and I am also the Teacher Coordinator of the Remote Area Teacher Education Program for the Northern Peninsula Area.
Two years ago I decided to take a more active role in the Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) by becoming involved as a school campus representative and very quickly found myself taking on the additional roles as one of the Torres Strait delegates on the Peninsula Area Council (PAC) and then as the PAC delegate representative on the Gandu Jarjum committee.
The main reason I became involved in all of these roles was because I have always had a strong sense of standing up for what I believe is fair and just especially for my colleagues but also the teaching profession. I firmly believe workers’ union movements are a powerful means of achieving a more equitable society especially for my people in the broader Australian and somewhat ethnocentric culture. It is for this reason above all that I decided Gandu Jarjum was, and continues to be, where I can contribute towards making a difference.
Gandu Jarjum provides us as Indigenous educators the vehicle to challenge the government. We unite to deliver our issues, our ideas and most importantly our solutions to them. Along with this responsibility to serve our people as Gandu Jarjum representatives comes much liability, for if we are apathetic and dormant we will have no one else to blame but ourselves for our children’s wanting future.
Profile of an Indigenous member of Gandu Jarjum
I am a very proud Bidjara man currently teaching in Mt Isa. I grew up in Ipswich however. My family is originally from the Charleville - Augathella region where I have had many wonderful times.
Teaching in Mt Isa over the past seven years I have worked in both primary and special schools. I am currently teaching Year 6 at Barkly Highway SS.
My union activity includes holding the positions of QTU Workplace Rep, LAC Rep, Indigenous Rep (New Region), Leichhardt Branch VP, Senior Union Rep, State Council Rep and QCU delegate. I am also the Secretary/Treasurer of the QCU-Mt Isa and District Trades and Labour Council.
I believe that the union is vital for all teachers and is the only true way to work towards agreed, collective improvements, leading to better outcomes for all stakeholders in schools.