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Josie Agius' Work in the Health Sector

We got to know people, not only our mob but white people as well.

The first job I got was when my brother rang me up. He was working in Canberra with Charlie Perkins and some of the other boys from St Francis Boys Home who were there. He wanted to know if I wanted a job in Norwood in health care. I had to know how to drive, so my husband taught me - along the banks of the Port River. When I drove over the Birkenhead Bridge for the first time I was shaking. But it was worth it because I worked in that health unit for six or seven years. The others there were Sandy Miller, Auntie Perlie Dookie, Margaret Hampton, Margaret Giles (she was the liaison person for the city hospitals, helping the people from the Lands). It was a really good job because I got out of home and children and got involved with my people again, who they were, where they came from. I worked from Woodville to the Port and all over this area and I found my relations again and it was really good.

When I was working in health care, we took the Sisters around to visit the Aboriginal families, but some of the Sisters wouldn't let us go inside. When we went by ourselves the door was open and we got to know where the people were going to be and you only had to go to one house, they'd all be there and it saved a lot of driving around. So we sat down and yarned and took notes and then went back and wrote it up. We only recorded what they wanted us to write.

Dr Packer was at the hospital and he let us come in quickly, we didn't make us wait for hours like other doctors. The young mums were able to come in fast with their babies, they didn't need to wait and they needed that, they weren't familiar with hospitals. We'd also visit them at home.

When the ladies came down from the Lands, we'd take them to the second hand shops. We got to know people, not only our mob but white people as well and how things worked. We'd go to the communities with Auntie Pearl, Point Pearce, Raukkan. We'd go to conferences interstate - it was so different for us to be a part of that. It was good. We really got into it and enjoyed it.

Josie Agius