Aunty Mary Martin

I was born in North Dulacca in South Western Queensland and am the fourth of 7 children.

My father is a proud Nunuccal man. He wanted me to become a Registered Nurse and chose to help fate along by hiding a letter advising my successful application of a position as a telephonist at PMG, ensuring I never received it.

I was the only Aboriginal student nurse in my group and don’t recall any other Aboriginal nurses on staff during my training days. My mum took me by the hands on the first day of training because I’d never have gone. It is true, your parents do know `what is best for you’ although you may not think so at the time.

My career started when I was enticed by a cousin into working at the local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service back in the mid-1970s.

My Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health journey started here. Little did I realise it was never going to be an overnight thing, but a lifelong commitment to `fly the flag’ every chance I had, to put the spotlight on improving the life chances for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

My focus has always been on planning and delivering healthcare services that are not only of high quality, but also relevant, responsive, accessible and respectful of people’s needs and culture.

In the process, I have modelled, championed and influenced not only the development of individuals’ skills, but also health resources and policy throughout Queensland.

The essence of my approach has been to lead by example in implementing grassroots, ‘coal face’ education and training programs to improve health care for Indigenous Australians.

These programs have helped to develop enhanced understanding of and commitment to the health and wellbeing of the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and improved practice by doctors and other health care professionals.

I am a woman of great integrity and commitment who brings a strong sense of social justice and human rights to everything I do.

I am honoured to be the recipient of numerous awards, from being presented with the South East Queensland NAIDOC Distinguished Service Award 2003 to the 2006 award of Honorary Membership of the Royal Australian College of General Practice, a title never before awarded to an Aboriginal person who is not a GP.

Aunty Mary Martin


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