Mr ENTSCH (Leichhardt) (1.56 pm)-I rise today to recognise in this place the very special efforts of a very special woman in my electorate of Leichhardt, Mrs Rose Richards, affectionately known as Auntie Rosie. Auntie Rosie has dedicated her life to helping Indigenous pregnant women from remote communities and their children get the best care and the support that they need. Recently I attended the opening of a new
facility which has eventuated as a direct result of the hard work of this great woman. Mookai Rosie Bi-Bayan, named in her honour, would not have happened without Auntie Rosie and her tireless efforts. During the late seventies, working as an Aboriginal welfare officer in the Cairns Base Hospital, she was concerned about the welfare of children born in Cairns to Aboriginal women from remote communities who were being discharged and returned to their communities prematurely, only to return with serious health complications because of the lack of appropriate services in their communities. They needed somewhere to stay in Cairns that was safe and culturally appropriate until they were healthy and to ensure that health matters were addressed before going home. So what did Auntie Rosie do about the problem?
She did not sit on her hands and do nothing. She opened up her home and welcomed these women and children in, caring for them in her own time, unpaid, with a small band of volunteers. Her home became known as Auntie Rosie’s Place. It went from a site in McLeod Street in Cairns to Trinity Park, where it became known as Rosie’s Farm, on to Balaclava Road in Earlville, where 12 mums and children were housed,
to a purpose built facility at Edmonton housing 36 mums and bubs. This woman single-handedly changed the face of maternal care for Indigenous women in our community. Auntie Rosie cared enough to make a difference and the community will be forever thankful to her. (Time expired)