At age 81, Mrs Thelma Weston is still going to work, at an Aboriginal community controlled health service in Canberra, and she remains a staunch advocate for Aboriginal Health Workers and the community controlled sector.
When Richard Weston, CEO of the Healing Foundation, sat down recently to interview his mother about her long career, he reflected on how much he had learnt from her – about courage and strength, persistence and determination.
Watch their interview below, previewing #IHMayDay17 on Wednesday (17 May) when Mr Weston will join a program of tweeters from 7am-10.15pm AEST discussing the theme Representation: politics, policy and education.
In the interview, Mrs Weston, a Torres Strait Island woman from Mer, who grew up in Brisbane, shares some of her memories of nursing training at the Brisbane General Hospital and working in the Army Nursing Corps. She later trained as an Aboriginal Health Worker at Marr Mooditj in Perth, where she worked at Derbarl Yerrigan Aboriginal Health Service.
Mrs Weston now manages the needle syringe program and is the administration receptionist at the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service in Canberra, and is a board member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association.
In the interview, Mrs Weston calls for better funding for community controlled health services, and greater recognition and support for Aboriginal Health Workers.
She attributes her good health and capacity for work to playing a lot of sport when younger, especially hockey and softball, and her enduring love of golf.
“You’ve been the rock and the glue that’s held us together over many, many years,” Richard Weston tells his mother during the interview.
“We’ve experienced a lot of heartache in our family, loss of family members and so forth, but you’ve remained steadfast and strong through that. That’s been a lesson for me about courage and strength.”
The interview was conducted two days before Mother’s Day, when the hashtag #IndigenousMums trended nationally (as will be covered in more detail in a forthcoming Croakey article).
Read more in this 2016 article in the Canberra Times.
#IHMayDay is an annual Twitter event, led by James Cook University academic Dr Lynore Geia, that takes a strengths-based approach and privileges the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to discuss health matters.
On Wednesday, 17 May, #IHMayDay17 will be co-hosted by the University of Canberra, in conjunction with Croakey.
At the University of Canberra, #IHMayDay17 is supported by: Professor Radoll, Dean of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership and Strategy; the University of Canberra Collaborative Indigenous Research Initiative (UC CIRI); the Faculty of Arts and Design; and the Faculty of Health.
A program of guest tweeters will run from 7am until 10.15pm AEST. Discussions will be moderated by Dr Geia, Professor Radoll, and Croakey Contributing Editor, Ms Summer May Finlay.
More information is here.
Bookmark this link to follow the #IHMayDay17 coverage at Croakey.
Stay tuned – the #IHMayDay17 program will be published very soon…