Because of Her, We Can Ebook Female Leader, Nathalie McLean said, “Women can and should be the leaders and authors of their own destiny.”
You went from not completing grade 12, to starting tertiary degrees in Journalism, Education, Psychology and finally completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts Industries. You’ve worked in over 10 different jobs across industries in 10 years, from debt collecting to performing arts. How has this rich tapestry of experience influenced your leadership approach?
Having a broad range of experience has opened many doors for me. It’s connected me with people that perhaps I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet, if I wasn’t so ambitious. I’ve gained knowledge, skills and networks from various industries through hard work and tertiary study. As an artist and performer, this understanding of people from all walks of life has given me a platform to tell real stories, whilst teaching me to navigate multifaceted leadership approaches. This has shown me that women can and should be the leaders and authors of their own destiny.
You created Junjurri Workshop based on your family’s stories. What impact is the program making, and how are early childhood educators integrating the workshop into their curriculum?
Junjurri Workshop engages children and educators with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language, art and stories. I found a way to work with early years, kindergarten and primary school children in an immersive and nurturing way which reflects the way I was told the story of the Junjurris. This is helping children, teachers and parents to accept and appreciate First Nations peoples and our culture. It is laying a strong foundation for the future of education in this country. I link all of my workshops to national education curriculum standards and provide resources to ensure that educators can make the most of my program and be inspired to find ways to integrate it further into their lesson plans.
You credit your mother as the inspiration behind your interest in the arts. Tell us about how she influenced your philosophy and the way you live your life.
I grew up in Brisbane and my mother grew up in Gympie on Gubbi Gubbi country where my grandmother still lives. My mother had a strong determination to keep our family connected to our culture and community, and she did this through her work in the arts and community cultural development sectors. My passion for the performing arts is something I was born with and my mother always embraced it. As a child and young woman I was introduced to incredible people from actors and directors, to politicians and artists, from across the country and the globe. My mother showed me the importance of giving love, gratitude and understanding to all people and living creatures and this has influenced the woman I am today.
How do you feel the Australian community is progressing with embracing understanding of Indigenous culture?
I feel like we are at a turning point. It’s been an awfully long time coming and with the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors and families behind us, especially our mothers, I can see that Australia is just starting to wake up. We still have a long way to go, but our country is beginning to see how much they have been deprived of a real connection with First Nations peoples.
Embracing the original inhabitants of our home is the only way to move forward together and begin to heal the people and the land.
The National Because of Her, We Can Ebook is a tribute to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Right across Australia there are endless examples of strong and successful Indigenous women leading the way. This Ebook shines a light on 12 of our country’s Indigenous women, including four Queenslanders, who are leading and succeeding in business. These women show the strength, resilience, hard work, creativity and intelligence that are crucial elements in business success. Their stories, journeys and the lessons learned are as diverse as they are, but all offer inspirational advice.
The Honourable Di Farmer MP
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
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