NAIDOC Week is a celebration held across Australia to highlight the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year’s theme, ‘Because of her, we can’, celebrates Aboriginal women and the essential role these women play in their families and communities.
Geraldine Punch is a nan, mother, mentor and foster carer. She has welcomed more than 17 boys into her home over a number of years to help provide them with an education, a life free from crime and a loving family.
Geraldine is a proud Goreng Noongar and Christian woman from Gnowangerup, a small town south-east of Katanning, but has lived in Perth most of her life.
“My mum never pushed me to get an education or a job, but she inspired me to be a foster carer. I see the goodness in children, not ratbags, and the Lord put me here for a reason,” she said.
“I saw a 6-year-old boy at a skate park and he was wandering the streets. He didn’t have a good mother and I said to her I would take him in for 6 months so she could get cleaned up and get a job. I looked after him for 8 years. He has now graduated high school.”
Geraldine currently has 6 boys in her care, with 2 receiving services from Therapy Focus. She said that all the boys had a love for sports and school.
“I want my kids to grow up to be strong, honest men. My boys are talented footballers most of them have finished year 12,” she said.
“They bring so much joy to me. I try to teach the kids about their identity and values, but it’s a bit harder when they have little problems.”
“It’s important the children accept who they are, and the things they can and can’t do, then you can encourage them to do what they can in the bigger world – disability or not.”
Reflecting on this year’s NAIDOC week theme, Geraldine said that women are the backbone of every Aboriginal family.
“I would say to the children, ‘all I can give you is me’, and that’s the best I can do,” she said.
NAIDOC week is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Find out about events happening in your area on the NAIDOC Week website.
Therapy Focus launched a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in 2017 to better engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers and communities.