Meet Karina. She is a proud Indigenous woman who is recognised by the Wanaruah tribe of the Hunter Valley region, and currently in her second year of Aurizon’s graduate program.
As part of the NAIDOC Week celebrations of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, I’d like to share my story.
My family’s story is common in our community but is not often spoken of.
My Great-Great Grandmother was employed on a farm as domestic help. There she met a red-headed Scotsman. They got married but because she was a full blooded Indigenous women she wasn’t allowed to be married inside the church.
She had nine children and their first child born is my Great Grandfather – a rosey cheeked strawberry blonde baby, who easily passed as non-indigenous. He was taken and put into the care of a non-indigenous family.
Out of the other children four died from unknown means and the rest of the family moved around so frequently that the local authorities wouldn’t know they had children that could pass as non-indigenous. My Great Grandfather never reunited with his family.
My Great Grandfather told his children to never tell anyone they were Indigenous because bad things happen when people know. He told his kids to pretend not to be Indigenous, and get a trade and work hard.
I have been the first for many things in my family: the first person to graduate from High School; the first person to attend and graduate from University; and I am the first Indigenous Human Resources (HR) Graduate at Aurizon.
I consider myself to be a position of leadership in respect to the role modelling opportunities and obligations I hold on behalf of my family, community and all Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people.
As a young Indigenous HR professional, I am in a position to work with the leaders of our company to help overcome cultural issues and barriers to improve the participation of Indigenous Australians in the workplace.
I also have lead some key projects through Aurizon’s Indigenous Reference Group to increase engagement and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
I am proud of my achievements and I’m continuing to pursue further opportunities to support positive outcomes for our Indigenous community.
Everyone needs someone to push them and provide them goals for which they can strive. I have been fortunate to receive opportunities and encouragement others have not.
I intend to live up to the confidence shown in me and look forward to helping provide similar opportunities for others.