25 May 2021

Rockhampton-based researcher Dr Carolyn Daniels feels privileged to be working collaboratively with the First Nations community of Woorabinda.

Dr Daniels' who joined CQUniversity's Office of Indigenous Education (OIE) in 2014' has spent the past three years helping to develop a number of projects to support education' enterprise and research opportunities in Woorabinda.

"CQUniversity has an MoU with Woorabinda to facilitate joint initiatives and collaborate on learning' economic' and research opportunities'"

Dr Daniels said.

"Woorabinda was established in 1927 by the Queensland Government on 55 000 acres of land. It was designated as the replacement for the Aboriginal Reserve at Taroom. The 239 residents of the Taroom Reserve' dispossessed and removed from many areas across Queensland' were forced to walk the 210 kilometres to the new site of Woorabinda."

"For our work with Woorabinda' Elders have instructed us to always preface reports with the story of Woorabinda'"

Dr Daniels said.

In March 2020' eighteen students received their Certificate I in Conservation and Land Management at a graduation ceremony held in Woorabinda. The students constructed the Taroom-Woorabinda Memorial Walkway as part of the practical component of the course' which was funded by the Queensland Government's Skilling Queenslanders for Work program. The Walkway' which commemorates the anniversary of the forced relocation' provided an opportunity for students from the community to obtain new skills in construction.

"We work collaboratively with communities and stakeholders when developing and undertaking projects' privileging First Nations voices."

"At OIE we work in partnership with communities and stakeholders to advance understanding of First Nations community engagement' First Nations disaster management' and various community-led research projects'"

she said.

Born in the Wimmera town of Horsham' the traditional lands of the Jardwadjali people' Dr Daniels has a strong rural background' having lived and worked throughout Australia. She has a background in nursing' and rural contracting in regional and remote New South Wales and Central Queensland. She has also worked for a number of agricultural and engineering companies.

Dr Daniels completed a Bachelor of Professional Communication' Bachelor of Business Honours and her PhD as a mature age student at CQUni.

Dr Daniels said the work in Woorabinda continues and she is currently involved in several more projects in the Woorabinda community.

"Many of the projects are only part-way through their development' but we recently had a very successful symposium with industry in Brisbane'"

she said.

"We have worked with industry partners to develop a First Nations Community Engagement guide for industry' and we are now taking that back to the community."

Dr Daniels said Reconciliation underpins the work she carries out as an individual' as a team member for the OIE' and with Woorabinda more broadly.

"Self-awareness is an important reflexive tool I use to assess my cultural competency at any given time. For me' it is important to understand the impact of the past mistreatment of First Nations peoples in Australia' and to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First People of Australia'"

she said.

"This year's reconciliation theme' 'Reconciliation is more than a word' it takes action'' resonates deeply' and as individuals' teams' and an organisation' it is incumbent upon us to step out in the spirit of reconciliation and ensure our words' work and actions have a positive impact for First Nations people."