Footprints on the sands of time are not made by sitting down and Aunty Flo surely must have sore feet by now!
Aunty Flo Watson OAM was recently recognised for her work in Reconciliation by Narelle Dawson and the team at Bribie Island Community Kindy. On the 31st of May 2021, several community members including Moreton Bay Regional Councillor Brooke Savige, attended Bribie Island Community Kindy and surprised Aunty Flo by recognising her with a special plaque and morning tea. All of the staff and children at Bribie Kindy welcomed Aunty Flo and guests with an Acknowledgement of Country.
Aunty Flo was recognised by Bribie Island Community Kindy due to her continued work in Reconciliation and many other areas. Aunty Flo is the interim Chairperson of the Pumicestone Indigenous Education & Employment Council where she attends weekly outreach sessions at the Bribie Island Skatepark to connect and mentor families and young people. Aunty Flo has also led NAIDOC Celebrations at the Bribie Island skatepark in 2020 and at the ANZAC Commemorations 2021 that recognised Indigenous veterans (hosted by the Maritime Safety Military Cadets Bribie Island). Aunty Flo volunteers her time and cultural knowledge too many areas including U3A Bribie Island, Banksia Beach State School 2021 and as the Chairperson of Teralba Park Stolen Generations Support Group Inc.
SO WHO IS AUNTY FLO?
Aunty Flo to many, is an Elder, traditional owner and proud descendant of the Ghunghanghi People of Yarrabah, North Queensland. She also has a traditional affiliation with both the Kuku-yelangi people of Laura/Maytown, Palmer River area which is west of Cooktown and the Gurambilbarra Wulgurukaba people of Magnetic Island and Townsville. Aunty Flo grew up in the Yarrabah Aboriginal Community, which was established under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protection Act 1897. Unfortunately she was removed under The Act and was separated from her family and sent to foster homes and then to boarding school in Charters Towers under duress. She was then subsequently sent to Brisbane in the early ’70s to attend teacher’s college.
In 1975 Aunty Flo commenced work in the Australian Public Service and worked throughout Australia in many different roles before going out on her own to start her consultancy business. During this time, she became an original and founding member of Reconciliation Qld Inc. appointed to various Boards and is active across many community organisations. Aunty Flo is a founding member of the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA) and has since been appointed by the Qld Premier as ACPA’s first Patron, a position she currently holds.
On top of that she is the Chair of the Teralba Park Stolen Generations Support Group Inc., in Brisbane. With this group she works with the Brisbane community in the areas of storytelling at schools, acknowledgement/welcome to country for many events including reconciliation/ NAIDOC events for the Australian Defence Force (Army) and others, hosting and organising refugees from the Romero Centre to be welcomed by Indigenous Elders and community members into the Australian community. She has also set up Elders groups throughout Qld to be viable businesses in particular the Yarrabah Elders Group Inc. and she is involved with many of these groups today.
Aunty Flo reviewed and evaluated The Commonwealth Games Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). She has been a part of many RAPs throughout Australia, both providing information, evaluations, reviews and training in cultural perspectives. In 2015 Aunty Flo received an OAM- Order of Australia medal for her service to the Indigenous communities of Queensland and continues to work hard in the communities across Queensland with many government and non-government organisations helping to bring change and improving the lives of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This beautiful lady is an absolute asset to our district and seems to fly under the radar with her accomplishments. Aunty Flo a very soft spoken, unpretentious and sincere woman with an air of grace surrounding her. I may add she also has a fabulous sense of humour and a genuine warmth radiates from her when you are in her presence.
Our community is very lucky to have and know Aunty Flo and she is very well deserving of recognition on Bribie Island and in the wider community.