Margaret Baison has helped foster cultural understanding through her many years of volunteering in the Townsville area.
Originally from Papua-New Guinea, Margaret established the Townsville Papua Nuigini Logohou Association in 1980, and 28 years on the association is still going strong, providing support for Papua-New Guinea visitors and immigrants.
She was instrumental in forging Townsville's sister-city relationship with Port Moresby in 1983, and in making Papua-New Guinea cultural events, such as Independence Day celebrations, important dates on the Townsville community's calendar.
Margaret was a Townsville Migrant Resource Centre committee member for 11 years and is still involved with the centre as a member of the International Women's Group. Through this group she has helped women who have migrated from around the world to settle more easily into the Townsville community.
Margaret accommodates people who have to travel for treatment at Townsville Hospital. She also works to promote Papua-New Guinea culture through dance performances and art and craft displays at the annual Townville Cultural Festival. Margaret's Hiri Dancers perform along with her grand-daughter's group, the Pacific Tamure Dances, at many community celebrations.
Maggie made many lasting friendships while working on Palm Island as the hospital's cook. Her dance group had the honour of being invited to perform at the official ceremony to mark the return of Tambo from America for burial. Tambo is an ancestor of Walter from Palm Island. He was in a circus that was to perform in Townsville, but ended up in America where he died 100 years ago. His return for burial was a significant event for the people of Palm Island.
By volunteering her time and boundless energy, Maggie has been successful in passing on traditional knowledge to the younger generation of the local Papua-New Guinea population, as well as the wider Townsville community.