Mapoon Health Worker Wins National Award

 In News

Mapoon Maternal and Child Health Worker, award winning artist, mum of seven and grandmother of five Daphne De Jersey, has won the CRANAplus (the peak professional body for the remote and isolated health workforce of Australia) Novice / Encouragement Award for completing her Cert. IV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Care Practice, her outstanding potential as a future clinician and leader in remote health, enthusiasm and commitment to remote health, willingness to learn and positive influence on the health of her community which is far beyond what is expected of early career Health Workers.

The award was presented to Daphne at a special ceremony at the end of the CRANAplus annual conference which was held in Hobart from 12 – 14 October.

Daphne, who is currently enrolled in a Diploma of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Care Practice, said she had no idea she had been nominated for the award and was stunned to learn she had won.

‘It was a bit of a shock when I found out I had won the award,’ she explained.

‘My colleague said, ‘can I give you a hug,’ I thought it was because she had good news, but then she said, ‘you’re going to Melbourne, you’ve won an award!’

“It turns out I was going to Hobart which was great as my dad and grandfather were born there. I still have aunties and cousins there and I managed to catch up with them when I was there. The last time I was in Tasmania was 26 years ago, when I was 21 and it was a shock going back there from the Cape. We get cold weather on the Cape but it’s different to Tasmanian cold weather – my fingertips froze, my face was red with cold and I think I lost a kilo as I had to walk fast to keep warm whenever I was outside.’

‘It was really interesting reconnecting with my aunties. One told me that before I was born, my parents (dad was white, mum was Aboriginal and Solomon Islander) went to the doctor to find out what colour their child would be if they were to have a baby. This was in the 1960s, when they were still removing half-caste children from their families. They were very frightened, my auntie said, that if they had a child, it would be taken away. In the end my sister and I weren’t take away but it was a real fear for my parents.’

‘I gave a speech when I accepted my award, sharing my family connection to Tasmania, the history of Mapoon and my family’s history there. My mother and grandmother were born in Mapoon but our family is part of the stolen generation – Mapoon is not our traditional country but because some of us were born there, it’s home.’

‘I also talked about how many hats people wear when they live in remote areas. In small communities, those that do stuff, get called on to do everything. I am a full time Health Worker, Chair of the Justice Group, run an arts organisation and a weekly Women’s Group with my sister. Last year I got a real urge to do something for the women of Mapoon so my sister and I started this group and ran it three times a week. It’s open to all women and as my sister and I are both artists we do art therapy with the women which relaxes them and gives them space to be creative and share their stories.’

‘We’ve dropped down to once a week but the Women’s Group is really successful and families have noticed a positive change in the women who attend.’

‘While my job title is Maternal and Child Health Worker my role encompasses a lot more than that. In small communities, there is often a staff shortages and you are called on to deal with a whole range of health issues – because you can and because you’re there.’

Maternal and Child Health Team Leader (North Cape) Johanna Neville, who secretly nominated Daphne for the award, said the win was well deserved.

‘Daphne is not only an amazing worker but also an inspiring mother and artist. She always puts her heart and soul into everything she does. I could not think of anyone else who deserves this accolade more.’

‘She has been with us since 2010 and has been studying the whole time. She is a dedicated, committed worker, mother, grandmother and community member and we are so proud to have her on our team.’