Weipa’s 2019 Citizen of the Year Florence Drummond, is a face of resilience, empowerment and community.
The proud Wuthathi woman runs a successful small business, works as a machine operator at Rio Tinto, and is the co-founder of Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia.
Drummond began her career in mining which provided her with financial security and freedom. She started work as a mine operator in Weipa, a small community on the Cape York Peninsula.
It was a struggle—being away from country and the support of community and family.
Living in a remote community, Drummond began an effort to reach out to other women around her by engaging with the local women’s group and supporting local Indigenous businesses.
Her organisation Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia was born through a desire to give back and reconnect to country.
It’s a grassroots movement that showcases the outstanding acheivements of women in the industry.
“The traditional role of women is within family and community. When you’re growing you really must think about giving back …”
Drummond’s organisation aspires to create a national framework that will support Indigenous women who wish to excel within the mining sector.
The end goal is to establish positive role models within the industry and to encourage positive messages about women in executive roles or students striving towards careers surrounding science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Drummond said that STEM careers are the future for mining, however, it is essential to show people that these roles can be achieved without the compromise of leaving country.
“Being away from community and country for so long, I can understand why people wouldn’t want to leave in the first place. An engineering degree can help you stay in community and you can build community and build your home,” Ms Drummond said.
Indigenous women in business make up a small minority of the workforce.
Drummond sees this as an incredibly important reason for women to unite through an organisation such as Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia.
The organisation hosted its first event on October 24th, 2018 in Brisbane. The event, ‘Discovering Indigenous Women in Mining’ attracted a crowd of around 60 people, and was a major success.
“It was great for everyone to meet each other and great for me to meet them, to have everyone together and heading the right direction. We all want the same things but we are all doing it by ourselves.”
“The biggest problem we have, is lack of access to things. If we don’t reach out, we don’t know what opportunities we have.”
Drummond will be continuing her work into the new year, furthering her networking on an international level. In March, she’ll be attending the United Nations’ 63rdCommission on the Status of Women in New York City, the day after the QRC awards in Brisbane.
The commission will address social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality, and the empowerment of women and girls.
Her presence at an event of this magnitude is an incredible achievement, one that both highlights the importance of having Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women included in global conversations and demonstrates to an international audience the need for inclusion of all women in these discussions.
Drummond is excited to keep working towards empowering Indigenous women into leadership roles and inspiring women to make decisions that will strengthen representation and rights of Indigenous people.
By Rachael Knowles