Joanne Johnstone has been embarking on a journey of discovery, learning more about her aboriginal culture and background.
It has been later in life that Joanne has started this journey and she now feels she is on a path to find out more about where she fits, “I am a fourth generation aboriginal, which comes from my father’s side. I have found that I am from the Baaka Tribe, which is from the Darling River area, also known as ‘The River People’.”
“Deep down I have never felt I belong in our society, it felt like something was missing. It’s a horrible feeling to have that you don’t fit, but now I have found ‘the missing’ piece – this part of me feels a bit better, but I still need the contact with my people and to be welcomed back home, so to speak, and I am still researching which takes time.”
Joanne is a Quality Administration Assistant at Merriwa and loves her job and the people she works with, “My team (at Merriwa) treat me with respect, we are like a little family. My work is a big part of my life and my input in my work is always respected and acknowledged.”
Working at Merriwa is just one of Joanne’s many achievements and she is an inspiration to those around her. Sharing her past, she says “I survived living on the streets in Melbourne for a year as a runaway child of 13 years, then at the age of 14 got my first job and a flat.”
Realising the importance of her education, Joanne returned to study and was determined to read and write, saying “I went back to school at The Centre in Wangaratta, learning to read and write, then went on to complete Year 11/12 VCE. Following on from that I studied at TAFE and completed a Certificate III and IV in Community Services”.
But her proudest achievements are her two beautiful children, Clint and Annie.
NAIDOC Week was recently celebrated in the community and while this is quite new to Joanne, the future is bright for her as she continues to research her aboriginal history and background, saying “I hope the future brings for me the chance to one day meet my people, ‘The River People’ and be welcomed to my tribe as one who has been ‘lost’ for far too long – then I think I will fit into this world fully.”
The team at Merriwa look forward to hearing more about Joanne’s progress in researching her people, the Baaka Tribe, and fulfilling her dream of being welcomed by them one day in the future.