Earlier this week, the women of TRACQS united with the community to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Held annually on March 8, IWD is a celebration of women’s achievements across the globe. The day also works to promote the challenges faced by women, and how our society can work together to achieve gender balance. This year’s theme for IWD is Each for Equal, which calls on all genders to band together in the name of equality.

The special community event was facilitated and managed by Rosalie Rusch, our Employment and Outreach Manager which united our team and women across our community to beautifully share some poignant stories and yarns, as well as talk collectively about the importance of ancestral culture, arts and history for future generations of women.

Keeping our Culture Alive (KOCA) put together an amazing display of some of their exquisitely crafted items (baskets, earrings, natural seeds and fibres, photographs of elders, jewellery from Emu feathers and Echidna quills.

A fantastic morning tea and lunch were provided by a collaboration between TRACQS Kowrowa Food Preparation Activity TRACQS participants and Ngoonbi Staff. Kuranda Justice Group, Kuranda Neighbourhood Centre, and the Ngoonbi Women’s Yarning Circle were also involved in the event.

Reflecting on International Women’s Day

Here at TRACQS we recognise and celebrate the achievements of the women in our community, and as a supporter of International Women’s Day, we are proud to be working hard to ensure a gender-balanced world.

The Community Development Program delivered by TRACQS helps people –regardless of gender – by participating in work-like activities that can often lead to meaningful community employment and engagement.

Rhonda Brim, TRACQS Activity Supervisor Keeping Our Culture Alive (KOCA)

Rhonda delivered a welcome to country and spoke on the history of how knowledge was passed down. She shared the history associated with learning to weave, recalling the places where they weaved and that she learnt from Grandma Wilma.  She discussed the importance of keeping culture alive and how it needs to be passed on to the next generation. 

Donna O’Chin (Chairperson at Ngoonbi)

“Acknowledged the Elders, past, present and future and the women at this important celebration. Sharing of knowledge, talents and culture contributes to happy and healthy families. Thank you to those who organised this well-received event. I will take from this event the respect for each other, the willingness to share cultures and the support our families and community to know that you can achieve anything in life.” 

Judi Enoch (Acting CEO of Ngoonbi/TRACQS Director)

“Our cultural love of respect is the most important cultural value that we can take through life. Bulurra, our Creator God has given these lore’s so that we have strong people who care for one another. The Elders of Ngoonbi were people who had a vision and formed our organisation in 1975 to be the vehicle for change and ensure Aboriginal rights in managing our own affairs and business.

“We have youth that needs jobs because families need an income to survive. Education is still important for every generation. Our Elders believed and encouraged us to get an education. Today in this room are many women who are currently studying and have studied to get the skills to better our community. Education is not to be at the expense of our culture, for knowing who we are and our family tree is important so that we can stand strong, together.”

Sheila BrimAOD Support Worker at Ngoonbi

“I also run the Women’s Yarning Group that has connections with women of different lifestyles and backgrounds/culture through my workplace/position. I’m all about social and emotional wellbeing and I’m a very cultural woman with talent that I love to share through my paintings, artworks and basket weavings. I like to bring my talent through community and link all service providers to help our women to achieve their dreams.”

Coralie – KOCA participant

Coralie recalled her weaving learning experience and how she was determined to get it right. She spoke about how it was many years ago that she began learning from Rhonda and how now she passes on the knowledge to those wishing to learn.

Maree – Casual Supervisor, KOCA

After thanking Rhonda for starting the KOCA program, Maree shared how she feels privileged to have worked with the group in support of them for the past two or more years. She praised the artists that she has been working with, their talent, improvements and ability to trust themselves with new techniques.  Maree also recalled the CIAF participation and how this year will be the third in a row with each year adding new experiences for the group to apply themselves to.


“I’m a local Djbugay Jalbu, the second eldest child of Rhonda Brim (Keeping Our Culture Alive Supervisor). My mother and father took their children and grandchildren out bush to gather raw materials for Mum’s weaving, which she then taught us how to do basket weaving. Learn from our leaders that you see before us today are strong women. Show love, respect and dignity to all around us and we will grow stronger together. We the women hold the family together and without us, they could not live or do it. We as women are strong and beautiful.”


What International Women’s Day represents is very important to me.

As a young university student, I fell pregnant with my first child. With the help of my mum, grandmother and friends, I managed to finish university. They helped with babysitting, proofreading assignments. I wouldn’t have been able to finish without the help of the women around me. In 2018 I graduated with my Bachelor of Nursing degree and worked the last year as a registered nurse in Katherine, Northern Territory. Seven weeks ago, I had my second child and trust in the ability of myself and the support of the women around me to do it all again as I get back into the workforce.”


Latia spoke to TRACQS about her personal journey and said her painting and varnishing of boomerangs began through her CDP Activity and that she had since had an exhibition with her cousin at UMI Arts in Cairns. Latia also paints canvases and joined the ladies at KOCA and has not looked back, now experimenting with basket weaving and earrings crafted from natural seeds and fibres.

Latia said she loves going walkabout on country foraging and working to improve her product through labelling and packaging. Latia said this has been a wonderful experience and that she is learning all the time and she particularly appreciates the guidance and support of the elders in her group. Latia says she has had some rough patches and this activity has made her feel better within herself, given her more confidence and has provided a healing space.

Latia said she loves the yarning, joking and personal stories the women share. Latia said she is looking forward to the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CAIF) where KOCA will showcase their crafts.


I’m from Kuranda. I have always been working in the Cape York. I spoke about how it is important that Kuranda needs an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island medical service, five days a week to improve the life expectancy for ASTI people. We need to look after our young people and help them grow old. We need to do more prevention health for our mob.”

Helen Hunter (Aunty Irene)

“After Welcome to Country I said grace. The food was a beautiful spread. Leading up to all of this, I came to Kuranda to live in 1971 and have been here ever since. I worked in the school for many years and know all most all the people in Kuranda from the youngest to the oldest and have seen them grow up and go through the schooling system. I love the love and respect I get from everyone. Love Kuranda.”


“I didn’t realise that so much from nature could be used for creating artwork. Rhonda (Keeping Our Culture Alive Supervisor) is my mother in law; I’m married to her eldest son. A lot has happened in the last few years for me and I appreciated all the love and respect I’ve received from Rhonda, as well as her welcoming me into her family.”

Claudia Doughboy – Employment Consultant, TRACQS

Claudia welcomed the women and gave thanks to everyone involved. She also spoke about TRACQS’ support for women and families in the community and encouraged stories and strength throughout the community with great leadership starting at home and with love and respect for each other.


Along with the team from Australian Training Works, Tyshaya said they were proud to be involved with this special event and gave an overview of ATW.

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About International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

For more information, visit www.internationalwomensday.com