Geraldine has completed year 12. She’s the first in her family to do so, and one of nine students in her small community.
Geraldine completed her senior years at boarding school in Rockhampton, Central Queensland, a few hundred kilometres away from her home town of Woorabinda. She says she was homesick, but determined to finish. And she had a Red Cross mentor supporting her every step of the way.
Red Cross helped Geraldine stay connected to her community and family, and now she’s a role model to her younger siblings.
“The other day me and my little brother was talking. He wants to finish school and he wants to go to uni too. It was really good for him to say that.”
In Woorabinda, any teenager wanting to finish Year 12 needs to attend boarding school. It’s challenging for them to live away from home, but they know education is crucial. It boosts their employment opportunities, builds pride in their community and helps them make connections outside of it.
For Wally, seeing his daughter off to boarding school was emotional, but worth it.
“It was exciting and it was sad, seeing her go away from the house. It was going to be a new experience for myself, and the rest of her family.”
Red Cross Youth Worker Nickeema Williams says she’s seen Geraldine grown in to a confident young woman – a role model for the whole community.
“It does make a difference for them to see strong young leaders stand up and be able to communicate and articulate their opinions and what they want to do in the future.”
And as they explore what that future looks like, Red Cross is there, mentoring the students after they graduate, helping them with job and trainee applications, university enrolments, and getting their driver’s license. We support people like Jobe Adams, who’s in his second and final year of acting in Sydney, and Stanley who’s just started Nursing at Sunshine Coast University.
Situated on the Traditional Lands of the Wadja and Gungulu peoples, Woorabinda means Kangaroo-Sit Down. It was established in the 1920s by the Queensland Government and 52 different tribal groups from Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory were sent there.
The people of Woorabinda have endured dispossessed lands, families torn apart, slave labour, racism and discrimination – trauma that has passed through generations, leading to reduced life expectancy, poor health outcomes, limited education, high unemployment and over-representation in the criminal justice and welfare systems.
But with the pain and suffering, there is resilience, strength and hope.
Geraldine and her friends and peers represent a generation of young leaders. They know the strength of their community and are carving a path for its future.