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Wintringham Client Named Brimbank Citizen of the Year

Joyce and Graham
by Wintringham Communications

Yorta Yorta Elder and Wintringham client, Aunty Joyce and her husband, Yorta Yorta and Mutti Mutti Elder, Uncle Graham (Boots) have been named Brimbank City Council’s Citizens of the Year!

Aunty Joyce and Uncle Boots are highly respected Elders in the Brimbank community, working to pass on their culture and knowledge to the next generations and regularly attending Brimbank City Council meetings. Additionally, they have also fostered a whopping 87 children over 27 years.

They were announced as the joint winners of the prestigious award on Australia Day. As part of the award, a mural of the pair will be painted on the St Albans Community Hub Wall.

We spoke to them to find out more about their achievements and how they came to Wintringham.

Fostering a community

Graham and Joyce’s foray into foster caring came entirely by accident, after looking after Graham’s granddaughter.

“We became her carers and it’s just led from there, but we’ve always had a passion for the community and our children in care. All children are precious,” says Joyce.

“Foster care became a part of us helping our families and the community, it’s a way we can help. It’s something that we didn’t set out to do, it was something that came about naturally for us,” says Graham.

Despite having foster cared for 27 years, Graham and Joyce aren’t finished yet! They still have two foster children at home, who are turning 19 and 20 this year.

Working for the community

As Aboriginal Elders, Joyce and Graham share their journeys and knowledge with others in the community.

In addition to foster caring, Joyce and Graham run a youth group for Aboriginal youth and regularly work with the Brimbank City Council, attending meetings and even helping set up a homework club at the St Albans Community Hub!

“We’re involved with Spirit House. We do youth group for them every Tuesday night, from 4:30pm to 6:30/7:30pm.”

As part of the youth group, the pair run cultural activities, such as making boomerangs and passing on knowledge, as well as other activities, such as bike riding and rope climbing. After each session, the group always sits in a circle and discusses how they feel.

“Even if one child says one word, that’s okay. As long as they participate in something and they’re doing something,” says Joyce.

“We’ve been working continuously with this community for as long as we’ve been in Brimbank. But in the last 8–10 years we’ve become more vocal about standing up for what we believe is correct, and speaking on behalf of people that don’t appear to have as loud a voice,” says Joyce.

A helping hand from Wintringham

Joyce is on a Home Care Package with Wintringham, which provides her with the support and help she needs.

“I was with another provider for ten years and I wasn’t happy with the service. So my brother-in-law Anthony, he said to me: ‘why don’t you go across to Wintringham?’, so I made the change.

“I’m very happy, because I finally have the services I need now. I can’t speak highly enough of the team.”

An acknowledgement of hard work

The award came as a surprise to the pair, who aren’t used to the attention.

“We were a bit shocked. We were very shocked, actually,” says Joyce. “It’s nice being rewarded for your work. We’re honoured. We can’t wait to see the mural.”

“The award is for us, but deep down in my heart, it’s the community who helped us to get that award and really supported and believed in us. It’s as much theirs as it is ours,” says Graham.

“We work not just for our Aboriginal community, but it’s a multicultural community that we live in now. And we’re trying to establish a hub for all cultures. When we run groups, we want to run it not just for aboriginal kids, but for all multicultural kids. So they all have a right, they all have a voice,” explains Joyce.

The mural of Aunty Joyce and Uncle Boots will be unveiled at the St Albans Community Hub on the 9th of April.

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If you are over 50, struggling to make ends meet, want a quality affordable home and help when you need it. If you want a good life then contact us on 03 9034 4824.
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Wintringham is a not-for-profit welfare organisation created to address the scourge of elderly homelessness. Wintringham Housing is registered in the state of Victoria as a Housing Association.

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