Laura Thompson (Gunditjmara)
Who are you and where do you come from?
I’m a Mother, Sister, Aunty, Cousin, Friend and Community woman. I’m a Gunditjmara woman and I’m also a business woman, who has two businesses called Spark Health and The Koorie Circle. My Grandmother, Edna Brown (nee Clarke) grew up on Framlingham mission. Nan moved to the city with my mother Rose Dwyer (nee Brown) when she was quite young. Framlingham remained an important place in our lives, but Collingwood was home. I was born and raised in Collingwood and as a kid, I hung out at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service.
Tell us what growing up was like for you?
I grew up in the Commission flats and spent all my spare time on the Basketball Court shooting hoops with the kids in the neighbourhood. I have three sisters who are much older, so I grew up hanging around my nieces and cousins. I was studious and sports kept me busy so I only have good memories of my childhood. I never thought of myself as disadvantaged because of I where I lived or my background. I felt lucky because we had a walk up flat, the biggest mob of family and I was proud to be Aboriginal and a part of the Community.
Who are the women that inspire you?
I’m from a line of strong Black women and I’m proud of my family and what they have achieved. I watched my family play key roles in building Community Control in Health, through the creation of Aboriginal Medical Services and the Aboriginal Funeral Service. There is not a day that goes past where I don’t have a moment where I think “women rock!” There are strong women everywhere and I take something from all of them. My business, The Koorie Circle, is one way that I acknowledge all of the wonderful women around me by sharing my earrings with them. In this simple exchange, I can show gratitude and appreciate their beauty.
What does self-determination mean to you?
Self-determination to me means the power to create our mob’s own destiny. It’s having the ability to step outside the box and to design our own programs and set our own agenda to address the issues that matter most to our Community. Self-determination is exciting and it’s overdue.
What does NAIDOC Week mean to you?
Without a doubt NAIDOC is a celebration, it’s a chance to rock your favourite Aboriginal clothes and earrings of course! It’s a time once a year when you get to reconnect with Community you haven’t seen since last NAIDOC. It’s a time of the year that I look forward to.
Can you please tell us about the work you do in Community?
I have two businesses, one in Aboriginal health promotion (Spark Health Australia) and the other business is The Koorie Circle where I sell Aboriginal designed earrings and run jewellery workshops. It’s hard work and long hours but I’m loving the freedom and agility of small businesses.
At Spark Health we like to say that we are in the business of adding years to people’s lives. You can find me in schools, footy clubs, prisons, workplaces and kinders…basically in any setting, promoting health! Health promotion is my thing and I’m passionate about kids swapping out slurpies for water because I care about their health, and I know that small shifts everyday make big differences and prevent chronic disease. I really am excited about health!
The Koorie Circle combines my love of fashion and earrings with Aboriginal culture. I felt there was a gap for Aboriginal women to express their identity and culture, so I started designing Aboriginal earrings. I love sharing these products with Aboriginal women and hope that eventually all women across the world can enjoy them. I have connected with so many women since I started this business and I have made many new friends, I didn’t expect that!
What future would you hope for young Aboriginal women?
The future for Aboriginal women is bright and we can control our destiny. So, I would say to young Aboriginal women to be proud of your culture, use your voice and don’t be afraid to try new things or look silly! Be yourself, you are good enough, more powerful than think and more beautiful than you realise.