Aunty Mary Martin

Aunty Mary Martin

Last week we celebrated International Nurses Day with a Yarning Circle at IUIH’s Windsor Office. We heard from several of our community’s deadly nurses, such as Aunty Mary Martin, Aunty Pamela Mam, and Renee Blackman.

Aunty Mary Martin spoke about her experiences of working in Aboriginal Community Controlled health for over 40 years.  

Aunty Mary is an elder of the Nunuccal People of Stradbroke Island and has connections to the Holt Family of North-Western Carnarvon Gorge. Growing up, she moved around South-West Queensland with her five siblings, until her Dad’s work settled the family in Inala, Brisbane.

Since a young age, she has been an accomplished individual.

From winning the blue ribbon in the 100 yard dash to receiving a scholarship in 1967 to be the first Aboriginal person to attend Brisbane Girls Grammar.

After graduating from high school Aunty Mary went on to study Nursing at the Mater Misericordia Public Hospital in South Brisbane.

Four years later she graduated and started her professional journey working at a range of health services throughout Queensland.

This included the first ATSICHS clinic in 1976 in Red Hill, where she first met Aunty Pamela Mam.

Since then, she has been involved in a number of projects in an effort to improve and deliver high quality health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Recently, she was awarded the Member of Order of Australia for such dedication to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

She has also received a NAIDOC Distinguished Service Award, ATSICHET Decade of Service Award, made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and was inducted in to the QAIHC Hall of Fame Award.

Her goal is to keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health high on the agenda and focus on developing services that are responsive, accessible, and respectful of needs and culture.

“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, to put the spotlight on improving the life chances for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

She says her family and community have always been her driving source. 

“You have to acknowledge your own ability to make a difference in this world. It might seem daunting at the time, but we can move mountains if we all work together with a common aim. You just need to believe in yourself and seize every single opportunity.”

Aunty Mary’s years of dedication has made her a champion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and therefore a truly deadly woman in our community!

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