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Isabel Tarrago

My name is Isabel Tarrago and I am a proud Aboriginal woman.

I was born in Boulia in far western Queensland and was raised on Glenormiston station which is about 130km outside of Boulia. My father was the head stockman of Glenormiston and my mother was a cook.

I left home to go to boarding school in Charters Towers and eventually ended up in Sydney doing a variety of administration jobs. After awhile I joined the Australian Public Service as a welfare officer for the Department of Youth and Community Service. Give or take a couple of years I've been working in public service ever since - for about 30 years now.

I am currently the Director of the Cultural Heritage Coordination unit with the Department of Environment and Resource Management.

Cultural heritage management involves the recognition, protection and conservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage, significant areas and objects. This work is very important to me, as it is vital in ensuring the continuation of our culture.

I have worked for almost 40 years now, advising local, state and federal governments on Indigenous issues. If there's a committee or group formed to discuss Aboriginal affairs and provide advice, there's a good chance I'll be on it. I've always enjoyed working with and getting involved in Indigenous issues wherever I can. I see it as my responsibility to contribute and grab these opportunities and I bring all my years of experience and knowledge to every role I perform.

My current position as the Director of the Cultural Heritage Coordination unit is my biggest achievement to date, but being the first Aboriginal advisor for Queensland on the Australian Public Service Board was also a great achievement.

While working for the commonwealth I was awarded a scholarship to study and I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and History as a mature age student. Studying was a great opportunity for me to explore some of my passions around our history and culture.

I have also been appointed by the Governor of Queensland as a senator of the University of Queensland. I represent the community in this role, and contribute to decisions that govern the management of the university. Working on the Senate has been a great experience and I really enjoy being a part the university where I earned my qualifications.

I have a strong passion for improving education and health outcomes for our people. That is why I've enjoyed working across the Queensland Government. Creating strong communities improves the life and economic wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and that's what I'm passionate about.

In the future, I would like to complete a Ph.D. This would enable me to develop strategies to bring about greater understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. It would also broaden the opportunities available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with particular emphasis on Aboriginal women.

My name is Isabel Tarrago and this is my deadly story so far.

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