One of 19 children who grew up in low socio-economic conditions in North Queesland, Professor Gracelyn Smallwood has dedicated her life to the betterment of future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. She worked for decades as a Registered Nurse, was the first Indigenous Australian to receive a Master of Science in Public Health for her work in HIV education in Indigenous communities, and even met with late South African President Nelson Mandela. Gracelyn is a true inspiration to Indigenous Australia.
What is your first memory?
Growing up in a low socio-economic environment with my family and extended family.
What was a recent highlight of your life?
Receiving the national NAIDOC Person of the Year Award.
Who has made an impact on your life? Why?
Nelson Mandela for being a freedom fighter succeeding against the odds. He invited me as his VIP guest to visit South Africa to talk about human rights issues in Australia.
What is the best thing about your CQUni campus?
The office is situated on the old Townsville railway yards where my father worked tirelessly to provide for his family.
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
I would change the violations of human rights and racism, something I have been advocating for the last 50 years.
If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
I would be Condoman – don’t be shame, be game. This was the basis of my Master’s thesis in promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.
Jamie Oliver is coming for dinner – what do you make for him?
A traditional Indigenous dish such as Chicken Jense.