AILC: Can you tell us about yourself, who’s your mob, where are you from and what do you do?

Tash: I’m a Nykina woman and the granddaughter of Dorothy Watson. I was born in Port Hedland on Karriyarra country and grew up in Karratha on Yindjibarni/Nguluma country and on Onslow Thalanyji country. I spent 5 years in the Australian army as a medic and then went into education when my boys started school.  I was made redundant in 2017 and have spent the last number of years fighting breast cancer and spending time working in supportive roles for the mob in Karratha. 

I have also been lucky enough to be a director on the board of Aboriginal Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (ABC) which has led me to my current role of co-facilitating the AWRAE program, which stands for Aboriginal Women in Research and Evaluation. Karratha is the pilot site and I'm passionate about supporting our women to step up into decision making roles and realising their potential. 

AILC: Which AILC course did you do?

Tash: I participated in the first regional leadership course in Port Hedland in 2004. I was working in education at the time and the deputy principal at the school supported me to apply for the course. The course really put me out of my comfort zone and started to really put me on the path to exploring leadership and self-determination. I started to become more reflective in the ways that I work, I became more assertive and more aware of Indigenous issues and the impacts of racism, oppression and the part politics has to play.

The course really opened my eyes to the many facets of leadership and its complexities. I saw that no matter if you are black or white, issues around the Tall Poppy syndrome can sometimes hold us back.

I also completed the Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership in 2013.

AILC: What did you like about the AILC courses?

Tash: The AILC made it easy to connect and understand our mob and where we are coming from. They enable Aboriginal people to step up and have an impact. It  is worth taking the time to participate in an AILC course.

AILC: Who do you admire as a leader and why?

Tash: I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by greatness. The people I surround myself with bring the best out in me and make me want to be better. My advice is to always watch who you surround yourself with. Some people can be full of hot air. The doers and thinkers make me want to stand taller and be better than I was yesterday.

Many of the people that have impacted me are women. Women like the Chair of ABC Foundation, Helen Slater, and the CEO Alison Sentance. Another great influence was a former manager Sue Cuneo.  She positively impacted my life and I value every word she said to me and admire how she operated. She had a wonderful ability to lead a team and encourage positive collaboration.

AILC: Thank you so much Tash for sharing your experiences and thoughts with us.