Nora has won this year’s Port Hedland nomination for NAIDOC day celebrations in the Culture category. This category tells us about an Elder who demonstrates their leadership and shares their knowledge and Culture.
Nora Cooke, a Ngarla Women, is our organisations Indigenous Liaison officer. She has been working for Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation for over 4 years. Nora oversees our in-house staff Culture Awareness workshops. The workshops help develop an appreciation and respect for Aboriginal culture, and an understanding of how this relates to our workplace, proving insights into how culture shapes our values, attitude and behaviors.
In May this year, Nora took two weeks cultural leave. Nora was asked by an Ngarla Elder to accompany two other ladies, to go on country to look at naming plants and flora in her language Ngarla, this is to preserve the local language and to ensure future generations have access to this Aboriginal language.
Nora Cooke has also been our very own in-house Covid-19 Support Person at our AAC Hedland office. A lot of our AAC Job Seekers have had many concerns about getting their jabs. Nora has been providing assistance and support to help those Job Seekers overcome some of these concerns. She has spent time with them yarning about the Covid-19 jab and providing transportation so that our Job Seekers can get to their appointments.
Nora picks up our Job Seekers and travels with them to their Covid-19 vaccination appointments. She also travels home with Job Seekers post jab to make sure they feel comfortable and cared for throughout the entire process. Nora has respectfully engaged with our Aboriginal Job Seekers throughout this period to ensure that they have been able to make informed decisions around Covid19 vaccination’s.
Nora earlier this year joined Nicole from Naturally Nic at the Yandeyarra Community Women’s Centre. The ladies delivered our AAC ‘Cooking on a Budget Activity’ to the female Job Seekers from the community. The activity teaches participants about the nutritional value of different food and how they have an impact on our health. Participants also learned a variety of healthy recipes. Discussions around prevention of diabetes were also held during the 5-week program. On the 5th week Job Seekers were given all of the ingrediencies that they had cooked over the past 5 weeks, to be able to replicate the meals within their own homes.
The next cooking workshop that Nora will be involved in at Yandeyarra will be from the cooking book “Deadly Tucker” the Job Seekers will cook Aboriginal inspired recipes from this book.
Nora Cooke is currently one of the board of Directors for Wirraka Maya Health Service and Aboriginal Corporation, she holds the position of Treasurer. (WMHSAC) is a community controlled, primary health care service operated by the Aboriginal community of South Hedland and the surrounding area. A leader in the delivery of culturally appropriate primary health care services in the Pilbara for more than 20 years. Their primary purpose is to provide culturally appropriate and holistic health care services to the Aboriginal people of this area. Their clients and the community in which they work are central to the life and success of WMHSAC.
20 years board member of YMAC-Board Native Title Board
Nora was an elder on the YMAC Board for 20 years and only resigned last year. Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation is run by an Aboriginal Board of Directors to protect Yamatji and Marlpa Country. This is achieved by providing a range of professional services to their clients; the Traditional Owners of the Pilbara, Midwest and Gascoyne regions of Western Australia.
Seven members of a South Hedland Aboriginal Health Service travelled from the Pilbara to Perth to attend an annual conference on Aboriginal health. Nora Cooke attended the conference and said that it was an invaluable experience. She said it was a privilege to network among other Aboriginal community-controlled health services to gauge interest and learn more about the sector. This sentiment was echoed by AHCWA chairwoman Michelle Nelson-Cox, who said the conference provided a unique opportunity for people involved in Aboriginal health to come together. “It’s essential that we, as Aboriginal people, find our own solutions to issues in health and then work out how to implement them,” she said. The workshops included discussions on child growth and development, a patient-centred Medicare model, the needs of LGBTI people, making end-of-life decisions and dealing with depression and suicide.
To Nora, country means to live freely on the land, gathering food and hunting.
A little more about Nora
Nora enjoys the bush life in the Pilbara, including fishing, camping, cooking and hunting. Nora has an in-depth understanding of bush medicine and provides advice to people seeking bush medicine treatments. Nora also taught culture by teaching several Aboriginal languages and running cultural awareness training at mine sites and at the Wangka Maya Language Centre.
Throughout Nora’s life in the Pilbara she has remained a strong elder who strongly advocates for Cultural Awareness in the region. Nora often on the weekends takes her seven grandchildren along with several others in the 12-seater bus to go on country to the DeGrey river where she continues to teach them traditional Aboriginal cultural practices ensuring that these skills are not lost and that they remain part of future generations. Nora knows that to protect, strengthen and assist the emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people they need to be connected to community, land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and have a sense of belonging, Nora Cooke lives out her Aboriginal Culture in her everyday life.
The above information is just a very small glimpse of some of what local elder Nora Cooke has been able to achieve through her leadership and Culture Awareness knowledge and skills.