Warren Minniecon

At the age of 53, Warren Minniecon has had his fair share of ups and downs.

The Normanton man has battled everything from chronic alcohol addiction in his teens and 20s, to a severe attack of Lupus in his 30s which caused major damage to his kidneys forcing him onto a disability pension.

But today, he has overcome adversity and is making a real difference in his community by teaching literacy and numeracy to adults at the Normanton Campus of Mount Isa TAFE.

Warren began his working life as an apprentice boilermaker with Mount Isa Mines, before moving into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs with the then Department of Social Security.

"Over the past 33 years of my working life, I have worked directly and indirectly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs," he said.

"It wasn't until I joined Mount Isa TAFE that I stepped back and took a good look at what impact I was having through my work on the ever-growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues - was I helping?" he said.

"I decided that for me to make a real impression, I needed to be in a position where I could pass my knowledge, skills and expertise on to others.

"As a result, I undertook a Bachelor of Education in Adult Education majoring in Literacy and Numeracy.

"I came to realise that if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are to succeed in an English-speaking, capitalistic-dominated society, then they at least needed to have the tools to help them cope with their day-to-day lives, and also enable them to participate in meaningful, constructive, effective decision-making regarding their futures."

The difference Warren makes to his community every day extends further than just his job as a teacher.

He also sees himself as a role model to those who struggle with alcohol and tobacco addiction.

"You don't need (those things) in your life to be happy; without them in your life, you can achieve things and have a better life," he said.