Aurizon’s Caitlyn Gallagher shares her story as part of National Reconciliation Week
As we mark National Reconciliation Week, proud Gomeroi woman, Caitlyn Gallagher shares her family’s story, her insights on reconciliation and her career with Aurizon.
Caitlyn Gallagher is a proud Gomeroi woman who works at our Antiene Depot on Wonnarua Country, as well as our Quirindi Depot on Gomeroi Country in New South Wales. Caitlyn shares her story as part of her commitment to reconciliation and being a voice for generations.
Yaama (hello in Gamilaraay).
My name is Caitlyn, and I am Gomeroi, passed down from my maternal grandmother.
A lot of my family history is lost due to a lack of records, name changes and a refusal to speak about our ancestry as my grandmother grew up in a time when being of Indigenous descent was something you did not admit – especially if you wanted an education, employment or to make a good marriage.
However, over recent years my family has been able to piece together a little of our history.
My grandmother grew up on Windy Station with her 11 siblings at Pine Ridge on the Liverpool Plains. Her mother was born on Piallaway Station near Walhallow.
Although I have had no cultural practices taught to me of the Indigenous sense, my memories of my nanna are clear: she loved the land, she was a great horsewoman, and she was never judgmental and always kind. She was strong and a great role model for me, growing up with her kind and gentle ways.
I am of Gomeroi descent growing up in a town called Wallabadah on the outskirts of Quirindi. Wallabadah is the Indigenous name for Stone.
Geawegal Country – Home to the ‘Wingen Maid’
I am now living in Scone, on Geawegal Country which is home to the ‘Wingen Maid’ – a rock formation on the hill that resembles a sleeping female.
Indigenous people tell the story of when a group of Warriors set out to Broke Flats for a battle with the Kamillaroi in which they left behind the old people of the tribe as well as the women and children.
One girl sat and waited for her man to return. When he did not return, she prayed for the spirit Biami to come and take her life because she simply could not live without him.
Biami felt sorry for her – the girl who would not stop crying for her man, so he made her into a stone feature looking down on the valley. The tears she cried fell upon Burning Mountain and ignited the fire that is still there today.
Burning Mountain is the name of the mountain in the town of Wingen. Wingen is an Indigenous name meaning fire and is named so due to a smouldering coal seam under the sandstone which has been doing so for thousands of years.
Being a Voice for Generations
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) to me is a time to sit back and reflect on how far Australia has come on its reconciliation journey, but to also remember we still have so far to go.
Our Indigenous people need to have the same chances as everyone else in Australia, especially when it comes to education, their health and the choices they can make to have a better life. We need an equitable future for all Australians.
I am also on my own personal reconciliation journey, to find out as much as I can about my family history to be proud of who I am and where I have come from, and to be able to share my story and break the generational trauma that has affected my family.
This year’s NRW theme ‘Be a Voice for Generations’ resonates with me, as a part of my family history is lost due to lack of records and a sense of shame of our history that did not want to be spoken about.
Our history needs to be passed down to future generations – both the good and the bad, so we can break the generational trauma and see that history does not repeat itself. It is through truth-telling and sharing our experiences this can be achieved.
All youth in Australia should have a sound knowledge of Indigenous history and culture. We need to start talking and sharing our stories, but we also need to listen to the stories of others.
Driving my career with Aurizon
I started as a Trainee Train Driver with Aurizon’s Antiene Depot in 2017, I was a driver up until 2020 when I had my son and, due to some health issues, I was unable to continue my career as a driver.
Thankfully my leaders put forward an idea to keep me employed with Aurizon. With their assistance, I became an Administration Support Officer for the Antiene and Quirindi Depots, working more family friendly hours.
Since then, I have joined Aurizon’s Indigenous Reference Group (in 2021) and I am now in the process of completing my Certificate IV in Leadership through Aurizon’s Indigenous Future Leaders Program.
It is also through the support of my leaders and work colleagues, that we will be running our first Indigenous Driver Trainee School in New South Wales later this year.
Working at Aurizon provides you with the opportunity to develop your career and work in a great team environment. The diversity and inclusion that the Company promotes are also great, as you can come to work and be yourself and be proud of who you are.
I come from a family where our heritage was not spoken about, to working in a company in which I can be proud of my heritage and not be afraid to speak up on the issues affecting Indigenous Australians and share my truth.