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My Souths Story - Aunty Norma

If you live around the Redfern area, chances are you would already be familiar with the name 'Ingram.'

It's a name that represents a culture spanning longer than 40,000 years.

In March 2019, Aunty Norma will be representing this culture, her people and the Labor Party, as the local candidate in the upcoming NSW State election. As the date draws closer each day, so too will her excitement for something else.

That something else being the South Sydney Rabbitohs' 2019 NRL season.

As an activist, Aunty Norma was at the forefront of Indigenous affairs in the 1970s campaigning to bring about positive change for her people. While the world we live in has evolved over this time, one thing has remained a constant in her life. Her love for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

"We all love the Rabbitohs," said Norma.

"We're part of a feeder group, the Redfern All Blacks so we've had a lot of my family, my brother my cousins play for Redfern All Blacks and then people like my nephew, Nathan Merritt who played for the Rabbitohs.

"That's our team."

At the turn of the decade in the 1960s, Indigenous Australians sought to bring about change.

Rolling on into the 70s, Norma was at parliament house when the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was set up in protest to the McMahon Liberal government rejecting a proposal for Aboriginal Land rights.

"In the 1970s we set up the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, along with that we set up a lot of the Aboriginal Organisations like the Aboriginal Medical Service, the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Aboriginal housing company," she said.

"They were models for other services to be set up around the country.

Aunty Norma's helping hand extended beyond these organisations as she went on to found the Murawina Aboriginal Preschool on The Block in Eveleigh Street.

"At the time, we set up our constitution which said that only Aboriginal women can be members," said Norma.

"You had to think of the politics of the time where the men were doing our fighting and protesting on the streets, so we set up our preschool.

"In terms of Aboriginal self-determination we wanted to be running this centre for ourselves and for our children."

As the 1980s dawned, so too did a golden opportunity for Norma, when she was invited to attend Harvard University, completing a Master's of Education. An achievement not only for herself, but for her culture that she so proudly represents.

"I was the first Aboriginal person to attend and graduate from Harvard, so I did feel a lot of pressure on me just like our players out there in the Grand Final when you know you've got to win," she says with a smile.

"It was such a privilege. I've never taken it for granted. I knew I had to work really hard so I put my head down, and it all paid off."

That hard work and determination has also helped Aunty Norma play a starring role as Chairwomen of the Wyanga Aboriginal Aged-Care Centre.

"We started this program about 20 years ago for our elders to make sure that we're supporting our elders to live in their own home, quality of care," Norma explained.

"We have our own building that we own so nobody's going to take it away from us."

The Wyanga Aboriginal Aged-Care Centre proves to be a meeting place for a number of activities for Aunty Norma and the elders.

For someone who loves her Rabbitohs, it would only be fair that at Wyanga, they watch their favourite team.

"When we watch our games, and when our Rabbitohs win, we're always on the edge of our seat cheering!" laughs Norma.

"You can only think of the pride when we won in 2014...and we're due to win it next year."



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