Remembering our story
It’s 2015 and Waltja is soon to be 18 years old, and this is the 59th edition of Family News. It is a good time to look back and remember our story as well as look forward to our journey together through this coming year. Here are three different stories of women who have been involved with Waltja right from the beginning.
In 1997, Rachel Abbott joined Waltja as a trainee, along with Catherine Coulthard. With Anne Mosey, they worked on the Workers’ Book project.The Workers’ Book was one of Waltja’s first publications. It explained the steps in recruiting and retaining workers on communities. “We went out to different communities in Central Australia and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands to help people on community councils follow the steps in the Workers Book.
It was an important tool to help councils get good workers and also to know what to do if the worker wasn’t doing the right thing.”
“Back then Waltja had only a small team we had only two troopies and one admin car. Now we have a whole fleet and a lot of workers and programs.” After the traineeship, Rachel went on to have a family and do other work, including nursing. She decided to apply for a job back at Waltja in 2014. “I was looking for work and I feel comfortable working in remote communities. Sharijn was a great boss in 1997 and still is. I like working in the Money Management program because it is really important that families learn how to manage their money well. Through this program families can learn how to have power over money not the money having power over them.”
“I feel good being back at Waltja. Waltja delivers honest, realistic programs that fit with families in remote communities. I trust Waltja and I believe in what we are doing. That is why I am here.” You can read more about our history on the Waltja website: https://www.waltja.org.au/about-us/milestones-1993-2014/
Punata Stockman is from Mount Liebig and she was a member of the committee of the Central Australian Family Resource Centre, the organisation which came before Waltja. In 1997, Punata created a logo for Waltja. “I could see it in my mind. I drew it with a pencil and the finished logo was quite small.”
I asked Punata how she feels about the logo today. “I now see our logo everywhere; on Waltja’s Toyotas, on clothes and on the website. I feel happy and proud that everyone uses it and knows it. It was a good design because it still shows what Waltja does and how Waltja works. It shows Waltja in Alice Springs and Waltja in communities. It shows how we are all connected together, working in the communities and working in Alice Springs, and travelling between.
“Our logo shows strong women working together, talking about what programs are needed in communities and how Waltja can get funding from other organisations or work with other organisation to run these programs.”
At Waltja’s first AGM in 1997, Margaret Orr was elected Chairperson. “A man was out working with the young fellas in our community and he told me about this organisation that worked for families. We didn’t have anything for women to do in our community, so I decided to go and see them. I got involved and my sister Julia Kenny and my sister-in-law Daphne Corrigan joined me.”
“I was happy to be on the Board of Waltja. It was hard work because at first we had no money. I went with Sharijn and other Board members to Canberra to try and get money for the work Waltja wanted to do. It made a difference going there, talking face to face with politicians, and telling them the truth about what families needed.”
After Margaret stopped being a Waltja Director, she worked as a cultural mentor in Waltja’s childcare program at many communities including Mount Liebig and Kintore and Titjikala. “There were just old dongas; no toys. We took childcare kits with lots of toys with us. We helped to set up better services in the communities. I remember being at the opening of the new childcare centre at Mount Liebig.”
“Last year Sharijn asked me to help set up Waltja’s new Family Mental Health Support Service. It has been good, particularly helping young people who need support and their families and working with people from other services.” As we finished our talk at Waltja’s premises in Alice Springs, Margaret said, “It’s been a lot of hard work to get where we are now. Sharijn, Kate and all the ladies worked hard, if they hadn’t worked so hard we would have nothing.”
We would love to hear the story of your connection with Waltja. Please get in touch with Veronica, Jess or Lenny at Waltja on 08 89534488 or email us at [email protected]