Celebrating strong Aboriginal women in the public sector

Celebrating strong Aboriginal women in the public sector

NAIDOC Week 2018 was themed Because of Her, We Can, a poignant moto for this time in history. We sat down with one of CPSU/CSA ATSI Group member and Aboriginal Programs Officer, Brooke O’Donnell.

WA has the highest incarceration rate of Aboriginal people in Australia, double that of Victoria or Queensland. But it’s Department of Justice workers like Brooke, who are striving to help her community and bring about great change.
Brooke was born in Perth, but her grandmother was from Palyku land, near Marble Bar in the Pilbara. After working for a not-for-profit with Aboriginal children in schools, Brooke joined the Department of Justice five years ago, working within jails and in the community.
“I want to make a difference to my community.
“60 per cent of those incarcerated in WA are Aboriginal. I wanted to get in at ground level, help solve the problem, teach about domestic violence, about addiction and help facilitate change.
“I believe to drive social justice and change, you need to be involved. I’m also a councillor for the City of Kalamunda. I can provide a greater perspective and I see the impact of one area of my work-life affecting the other.”
One of the concerns for Brooke is changes within the public sector.
“Aboriginal people need to be making change for Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal culture is complex, there are reasons why people do, what they do. And we need awareness and respect of that.
We never want to see less people receiving culturally appropriate help.

This year NAIDOC week has focused on the contribution of Aboriginal women.
“I think this year’s theme is a great time of reflection for Aboriginal women.
“It is because of my grandmother and mother that I can get out, work and help our community. We forget the sacrifice they made, we should be saying thank you to the women before us every day and to try to be a good role model for women of the future!”
“It’s great seeing women like NT Senator Malarndirri McCarthy rise-up. All women face additional barriers in the workplace but I think Aboriginal women even more so.”
As an advocate for social change, Brooke is also part of the CPSU/CSA ATSI group.
“I recognise the power of collective bargaining and the support a Union gives you. And I think Unions support social justice and the issues affecting Aboriginal people in the workplace.”
For more information, visit NAIDOC Week 2018.

Related: Lisa Jackson on Cultural and Ceremonial Leave