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The best of both worlds

Fiona and Sandra Coulthard, one of the participants in the Emergency Service training.

My name is Fiona Stanley (nee Coulthard) from the Adnyamathanha nation in the Flinders Rangers, South Australia.

My parents are Adnyamathanha and lived in and around Nepabunna, along with my older siblings. Our family moved away from Nepabunna by the time I was born and we lived between Blinman and Hawker where I did my schooling. We would often visit family and friends back in the community and I have fond memories of those times.

I'm married and have two adult sons who live in Adelaide.

Why did you want to work at Red Cross?
I like talking. I like to sit down and have a bit of a yarn and I love to cook. So the FOODcents program, which I started out in kind of played up to my hobby of cooking.

Thinking about it, I didn't know much about Red Cross at all. I'd always seen articles or stories about people in Red Cross but that was always about their work overseas.

Now, Red Cross was in the same town that I lived in Port Augusta and wanted workers. I thought "well I'll put in for this". You throw your hat in the ring you don't know where it's going to take you.

It was probably one of my best moves, because I'm happy where I am now. I'm not too much of an administrative person so I really enjoy what I'm doing now and that is yarning with people.

When did you start at Red Cross and what have you been doing?
Being employed for a number years with the local Aboriginal Health Service had provided me with the skills and the extended network to work within the community development field.

I've been with Red Cross since 2007 and began in the food security domain, delivering the FOODcents program between the regions of Port Augusta and Coober Pedy. In 2012 I was transferred to Halls Creek in the Kimberley, to help Red Cross with their community development work in Western Australia.

When I returned to Port Augusta in 2013, I began in the RespectED program which is about community safety.

How do you like working with your own Mob?
That's even better. I reckon I have the best of both worlds. I work with a great team of people and now also delivering Emergency Services program in the Flinders Rangers and coming up to my parent's community, where I come from, it's even better! I think this is God's backyard. I love it.

How important is it to have someone local working in Red Cross?
I might not live in the communities now, but that's where I'm from, my parents and family are from and I still have family and friends there.

So when I visit, it's like I'm not really working. I catch up with everyone and they feel comfortable yarning with me about anything really.

We don't just talk about how the training sessions are going, we talk about what's happening in the community and what's important to them and that helps us in the delivery of the program.

What are you doing in Nepabunna and Iga Warta at the moment?
I'm thrilled to have been asked to assist people from Nepabunna and Iga Warta because I'm part of this country and this is where my roots are.

I've been lucky to be trained and given the skills to deliver information which can then be used by others.

The work in the Flinders Ranges started from the Aboriginal Redisupport Project which began some time ago. Training was delivered in Port Augusta with consultation from Red Cross staff and members of the local community where the Emergency Services team was aiming to develop a disaster and response program, with an Aboriginal focus.

Two prominent people from the remote Aboriginal communities of Nepabunna and Iga Warta attended the Port Augusta training and were interested in what we were doing. So we made a number of visits to the communities to find out what they wanted and then created training that suited their needs.

How do you think the training's gone?
The training to community members of Nepabunna and Iga Warta is going extremely well. People attending the sessions were really interested in our expertise and how they can apply it to their communities.

They're happy that the training was delivered with their community's needs in mind.

Elders told stories of how communities coped with floods and strong winds in the past. So these emergencies and disasters, relevant to the Flinders Ranges, have been taken into consideration in the delivery.

We also spoke in the sessions about emergencies in other areas of Australia and staff deployments to the 2013 Bundaberg and Townsville floods.

Being deployed is only for a week, but that week can be the start of something different. It broadens people's horizons a bit more and our people are always interested in helping our mob out across the country.

We've just handed out a few certificates to those who've completed the training. So it's exciting to think that we've made a difference to helping the communities prepare, respond and recover in an emergency.

How do you like Red Cross?
It's a nice place to be at the moment and I've enjoyed the programs I've been involved in, and I reckon we've got a good bunch of people we can work with as well.

Photo: Australian Red Cross/Leigh Harris

This document may contain the names and/or images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are now deceased.