Here we have a conversation with Florence Drummond, Managing Director of an Indigenous start-up company called 'Indigenous Women In Mining and Resource Australia' (IWIMRA).
Where are you and your mob from?
I grew up in Northern Queensland on Thursday Island. My original tribes are both Wuthathi and Dauar. Thursday Island is a beautiful place, it’s really quite amazing. The island is not that big. The island has lovely beaches. Pearl shell trade is huge up around Thursday Island, as well as the crayfish industry.
Can you tell us a little about growing up in community? What was it like and what did you enjoy about it the most?
When I was growing up, I particularly enjoyed hanging out with my family. My parents were quite strict, so we never really went that far from family. Fishing is one of my most enjoyable hobbies from when I was growing up. Grade 8 was the first time I left home to attend a boarding school called Kooralbyn International School. It was here that I was exposed to many different cultures and ethnicities. This experience really expanded my worldview. There were lots of people from different backgrounds.
We understand that you currently work as a plant operator in the mines. Can you tell us a little about this job and experience and why you think it’s important for other Indigenous women to give it a go as a career?
From school, I moved to Melbourne for a couple of years, worked at VACCA in administration role and also as in events. From there, me and my partner at the time decided to buy a caravan and travel country for a little bit until we landed back in Weipa, where we would begin our careers in the Mining and Resource sector. I have been working in the mines as a plant operator now for the past six years.
What has been your motivation for starting Indigenous Women in Mining and Resource Australia (IWIMRA)?
After so long of not seeing a lot of progress for women, in particular Indigenous women in the Mining and Resource sector, I decided to open up the conversation and talk with other women across the sector. I soon discovered that other colleagues felt like they had no opportunities to develop in their careers, and that they had entry-level jobs and that was it.
What was it like to be named Weipa’s Australian of the year?
It was pretty full on. It was a humble experience for me, and I will use this platform now to showcase our women’s talent and continue the conversation for better outcomes for women in the mining and resource sector.
What’s next for you in 2019?
In a few weeks I will be travelling overseas to attend the United Nations World Conference on Women in New York. I am really excited for this event, it is huge for IWIMRA and I cannot wait to extend my voice on the big stage and represent my people.
Lastly, any inspiring words for the mob whether they’re young or old?
The strength as women to carry the burden of our communities, the strength of women to ensure our families are safe, the strength of women to empower each other for the longevity of our language, our knowledge, our culture and our traditions. We have forgotten our inner strength to achieve and carry the biggest boulders, we have forgotten the resilience instilled in women, we have forgotten the true strength and might of our voice. So to accept the accolades of congratulations is a dishonour to our old people, because they have dreamed of so much greater, and we must not accept the narrative we are being told, but in fact, continue the dreaming of our old people, as the oldest civilisation of this world, our journey is far, far greater and we must not give up.
A quote for other women and our future generations: Embrace the resilience of our old people and continue our dreaming.
A big thanks to Florence for taking the time to speak with In Travel Group and for her wise words.
The In Travel Group team.