Recognition for First Nations member and activist

12 November, 2020

As part of  NAIDOC Week 2020 celebrations, our union recognises the incredible work of Far North Queensland IEU member and 2020 Thersa Nunn First Nations Member Award recipient, Patricia ‘Patsy’ Lockington.

Patsy said she felt “privileged, honoured and surprised” to receive the Award at our union’s recent AGM, presented in recognition of her commitment to union, her ongoing support for industrial and professional campaigns, and her advocacy for issues affecting First Nations members and people.

“I have always placed importance on First Nations business in my daily life and given the opportunity, educated young people and all peoples about First Nations people,” Patsy said.

Role model for young people

As the Indigenous Transition Support Officer and Chapter Representative at Holy Spirit College Manoora Campus in Cairns, Patsy is an inspiring advocate for First Nations Peoples and their communities.

In addition to a background working in the public service, Patsy’s career has involved roles at the Yidinji Youth organisation and the Ngoonbi Community Services Indigenous Corporation in Cairns.

Patsy says she has always been involved in social justice advocacy work for First Nations Peoples during her career.

“In my current role, I work to help ensure our students, many of whom are vulnerable or have experienced trauma, are engaged with schooling,” Patsy said.

“Part of that means working closely with parents, teachers, school leadership and service providers like child safety, youth justice and community organisations that help support our young people.

“I also take care of student travel at our Cooktown Campus,” she said.

Patsy said although it was very challenging when she began her current role in 2015, she loves her job and has an ability to gain the respect and trust of the students she works with by focusing on building respectful relationships.

“When younger children come along, they listen to the older children who respect me and call me Aunty Patsy, so the respect is there from engaging with them and their families.

“Cultural identity and protocol are a way of life for our mob and I live it with a passion.”

Respectful relationships

Patsy says her school has established a culture among staff and students that is focused on building respectful relationships, being respectful to one another and being responsible for your actions.

The first thing Patsy does on Monday mornings is to share a prayer with the students, to model the teachings of Jesus and instil good values in their mind at the start of the week.

“It is a good thing for them to hear at the beginning of the week because some of the students come from a weekend that’s been traumatic for them,” Patsy said.

“I make it my business to get to know each individual young person and engage with them, connect with them on a daily basis and build positive relationships.

To celebrate NAIDOC Week 2020, Patsy’s school has organised for the traditional custodians of the land, the Gimuy Walabara Yidinji Peoples and the Yirranydji Peoples, to visit the school on Thursday for a dance performance and activities with students.

They are also inviting the elders from the medical centre across the road to Holy Spirit College, to entertain them and so they can connect with the students.

Union strong

Patsy is actively involved in union activities and her advocacy for union has taken her workplace from just one member to majority membership.

Since her days working for the government, Patsy said she has been a union delegate and actively involved in the union movement.

“Union has my support because they always fight for the underdogs, for better professional and industrial conditions,” Patsy said.

“United we stand, divided we fall.

“Coming from my background and what our elders did with us, showed us and coached mentored us, because of our indigenous background we’ve always stood up and fought for our people.

“First Nations Peoples want to be sitting at the table, not to be fed the crumbs.

“I’ll always fight for our mob and our union is a platform where you can put things on the table and actions get done,” Patsy said.

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