Wakka Wakka woman Kym Henry has no time to waste.
At 62, she’s on a mission to complete her law degree so she can educate others in her central Queensland community about the law and bridge the communication gap with the local police force.
“I would just like the police to understand Murri way — Indigenous way across Australia,” Aunty Kym said.
“Police don’t sit down with us and try, only the good guys [do] that want to know Indigenous people.”
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains an image of a person who has died.
Aunty Kym’s battle for Indigenous rights has been lifelong and one borne out of personal heartache and loss.
She said her nephew and her best friend both died behind bars.
Four decades ago, her nephew took his own life while in custody in the 1980s, Aunty Kym said.
“My nephew’s life was taken so young, he was only 22.”
In September last year, her best friend Sherry Tilbaroo Fisher died in the Roma Street Watch House in Brisbane.
“She had a health problem — she was very sick,” Aunty Kym said.
For Aunty Kym, it is a national shame that motivates her into action.
“We’ve got to fight for justice all around Australia – not just in Rockhampton,” she said.
A Stolen Generations survivor, Aunty Kym and her siblings grew up in Cherbourg in the 1960s.
Her mother, a “strong and honourable South Sea Islander”, was left to care for the family of 16 after her father died when she was two years old.
They were among the 546 Aboriginal people removed from their homes and sent to the settlement between 1940 and 1971 to be looked after by a government-appointed “protector”.
“So, we were taken off my mum,” Aunty Kym said.
Aunty Kym and her siblings were put to work at the Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement.
“At the age of six, we had to scrubs walls, scrub floors. We used to have a bucket and a cloth,” she said.
“The matron, she used to put our hands in there and burn our hands — we weren’t allowed to cry because it was so hot.
“We didn’t have clothes, we had potato sack dresses.
“We would get beaten … I’ve lived a life that was very hard.”
For six years, Aunty Kym said she endured physical and sexual abuse at the hands of those who were meant to look after her.
“I carried that secret on until the age of 12 when my mother came and picked us up,” she said.
Life after the institution
A move to the city, however, was no escape from the lingering trauma, so Aunty Kym sought solace in reading and studying at Brisbane’s Kelvin Grove State School.
“I was a book worm — I learnt how to read and break the syllables by myself,” Aunty Kym said.
“My mum used to say, ‘Why don’t you go out and play?’ and I would say, ‘No, I want to read these books’.
“My mum always said to me that, ‘One day you’re going to become a strong black lawyer’ — and I’ve kept my promise to my mum.”
Fighting for change
Aunty Kym’s interest in the legal system has spanned four decades; first, she completed a law and welfare diploma at the University of Queensland and then commenced a law degree at Deakin University.
Years later, she has hit the books again, determined to finally complete it and put her knowledge to use at a grassroots level.
“Police need to listen to us — with the elders, with the young generations as well,” she said.
“You wonder why they get aggressive with you?
“Because you are not listening.”
Source: Thanks msn.com