From little things, big things grow – NAIDOC week

Indigenous artwork
Songlines Tie All Aboriginal People Together by Lani Balzan

To quote the iconic song from Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody – From little things, big things grow.

My name is Frank Waria, and I am a human resources officer. I have been with TMR since late 2008.

I was born in Brisbane, but grew up in Cherbourg at an Aboriginal mission near Murgon for my first five years before our family moved out to Logan City from the late 1970s.

My parents were hard workers. They both had great work ethics. My dad worked on the railways as part of the chain gangs that laid the sleepers on the tracks for many years before he moved into government to work in Abstudy.

My mother worked in just about anything she could do. I still remember her studying and learning shorthand. She was always pushing me to get into government so when I became full time she was very happy for me.

I have dedicated most of my working life to assisting Indigenous Queenslanders in roles such as student support officer, job match consultant and mentor of Indigenous programs.

I love these sorts of roles as it makes me feel as though I am doing something positive for the Queensland community and especially for Indigenous people.

Every now and then I will bump into someone from my past, a student or a job seeker who will say ‘Frankie, remember me? You used to be my student support officer or job placement officer.
Well guess what? Without your support, advice or guidance I wouldn’t be where I am now.
I have been working for 10 years plus now – or – I could never have gotten through school without your guidance, my parents still talk about you.’

So when I hear stuff like that, I know I have done a great job. But more so, I get blown away by the fact that they actually hunt me down, whether it’s via social network or face-to-face to actually say it to my face. It is the best feeling.

I work on the theory of – from little things big things grow and I try take a level-headed approach to everything.

I take the approach of when it comes to work it’s swings both ways. If you have good work ethics you will get along fine with your employer.

I also drum into those I am helping to meet me halfway. My upbringing was all about going to school and then getting a job, any job. I can still hear my mother yelling ‘get up, go to work’.

For me personally NAIDOC is an important week.

It really is a celebration of all things Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. I would love if it was celebrated to the extent of a National holiday, at least one day in the Australian calendar as we do for Australia Day, ANZAC Day and so on. I think it’s worth acknowledging and celebrating.

From a professional point of view NAIDOC is a real opportunity for all Australians to come together and celebrate and learn about this amazing culture and history.

People travel the world to see amazing cultures and learn about them and we have one of the oldest living cultures in the world here in our own backyard.

This year, once again TMR employees will host a stall at the NAIDOC Week- Musgrave Park Family Fun Day event on Friday 8 July.

Our stall will be manned by employees from the Indigenous Employee Network, Inclusion Diversity Working Group and Customer Service Centre (CSC).

The Musgrave Park Family Fun Day provides the opportunity for Indigenous people to showcase their cultural, personal and career developments. It also increases cultural awareness in the community to aid the process of reconciliation. Last year the TMR message was simple – driver’s licence and driver safety.

We hoped people would see the importance of getting their licence as it can help them get their official identification, independence and better chance at employment opportunities.

It has concerned me for some time now that too many Indigenous Queenslanders are unlicensed. TMR actually has a mobile Indigenous Driver Licencing Unit (IDLU) which travels to remote Indigenous communities, where people can find it difficult to access our services.

We also had our CSC team promote Driver Safety. This is also an important message, as road crash statistics show that there are many serious and fatal crashes in Indigenous communities.

As an indigenous Queenslander this is something I would like to improve and I think as One TMR we can.

As Paul and Kev say, from little things, big things grow.

Frank Waria
Culture Team and Engagement Team