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Georgina Williams on Being Entrepreneurial

I wasn't good at counting money but the boss said he'd take the two of us on and whoever was best on the till he'd take that person on.

My Uncle Gilbert had a big boat with a well to keep the fish alive, when it was full up he'd get them out with a net and pack them in baskets. They used hand lines off the boat. There were plenty of fish around then. Big King George Whiting, they were the main fish people used to buy. He'd put them in a basket and ship them to Melbourne. My dad helped, he was a good fisherman too. He knew all the fishing holes on the Peninsula. My mother's father used the old traditional net fishing.

My cousin Joe Owens (Joe Blake was his nickname), he was in the airforce and he was a very good pianist. Three of Aunty Amy's kids were in the forces, the oldest one (Cliffy) was in the army, Eunice was the girl and she was in the army too. Reg Saunders was the first Aboriginal captain in the army. There were quite a lot of Aboriginals in the army, because it had equal rights. Because Aunty Amy had kids in the services, she could go anywhere she liked.

People don't want to hear this, but when our people started to come back to the Port, our women rescued us from certain death, using their female wiles in exchange for life, that's why they came to the Port. The men were attached to the spiritual side, they were wiped out when the trees were removed, their identity mirror was shattered, so they couldn't see themselves any more. The women were the ones who adjusted, and then the men looked to the women for leadership to how to fit into this new way. Our old ways couldn't be sustained in this new world.

My mother, Mary Williams, was living at Taperoo when the Housing Trust began to give people temporary housing. She was the first Aboriginal Education Officer (AEO) at the Taperoo school (the headmaster Ron Neilson was previously the head at Point Pearce, he'd helped them to set up the cooperative store). Pat Buckskin and Lewis O'Brien were working at Taperoo school as well. Pat Buckskin was one of mum's favourite girls, so she made her feel that she could do it.  Mum's brother was Pat's father and she loved him, so she and Pat had a close relationship. They were the first people to become AEOs to help the Nunga kids. Ron Neilson didn't know mum was there and she didn't know he was there, but when my younger brother went to school and had speech problems and she went in to sort it out and the met again.

This work inspired her to start the first Nunga Kindy the "Parents and Children's Association", the beginnings of the Kalaya Children's Centre. She got other Aboriginal mothers and grandmothers together and did it on her pension, and got the Housing Trust to give her a house and she set up a kindy by the Alberton railway line using funds from the Commonwealth Government's Culturally Appropriate Aboriginal Housing funds.

I took a job in WA as a barmaid when I wasn't legally allowed in the bar.  I didn't know how to do it, but I said I could. I got three weeks experience and then got the job. We had to do it, my husband got the sack from his job in the mines and we were broke so I had to do it. I wasn't good at counting money but the boss said he'd take the two of us on and whoever was best on the till he'd take that person on, so we were careful and every night they'd count the money and we were spot on. I was pregnant too and had a little girl, I just had to do it, to get to and do what you can do. I'm still like that.

I got a job in one of the sideshows being the hula girl. I hadn’t done it before, but I’d seen it in pictures. So I did that, and then something happened to Dolores the Snake Charmer, she was sick or something. They asked me to do it, I said I can’t do it I’m scared. They said we milk the snake, there’s no poison and it’s used to people. In the end I did do it.  Then they had a fire eating act and they wanted me to do that to. Finished up I nearly burned the back of the tent down because I couldn’t do it and flung the fire away.

Georgina Williams