Mary Pitt

My name is Mary Pitt and I was born on Thursday Island. My father was a Torres Strait Islander man from Moa Island and my mother was of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people of North Queensland. My dual heritage enables me to identify with both cultural groups.

I have lived in Mackay since 1974 with my husband, with whom I share five adult children, 18 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

I have been involved for many years with the indigenous community in Mackay through a variety of activities and as a member of a number of committees including Domestic Violence Resource Services; MADAIMA (Murri Radio); NAIDOC; Mackay Regional Council for Social Development (MRCSD); and Critical Reference Group member on the Suicide Prevention and Intervention group.

I became interested in cultural events while I was working at a local primary school as an Indigenous Liaison worker. Later, whilst employed as the only female cultural teacher at Mackay TAFE I realised the importance of further education, and in 2003 at age 54 I started my university studies.

Completing university as an older students, and the stress of juggling my studies and caring for my family was a challenge, but it is now one of my biggest achievements. I have a degree in Indigenous Community Management and Development and was selected on the Vice-Chancellors List in 2005, which was made up of the top 1% of undergraduate students based on academic performance. In 2006 I also completed my Honours Degree in Indigenous Australian Research at Curtin University in Perth.

I'm passionate about many things but other than my family, I'm enthusiastic about social justice for Indigenous people who have endured through all the past injustices.

This passion has translated to my current role tutoring university students on Indigenous aspects of their studies in the social discipline. I strongly believe that for young Indigenous people to make a difference in their lives, they need to get as much education as possible ? it's the pathway to the future.

Although now I am semi-retired I am still involved in the local community through committees and such.