NAIDOC WEEK: Aboriginal elder Aunty Diana Fatiaki is a pillar of the Bundaberg community.
NAIDOC WEEK: Aboriginal elder Aunty Diana Fatiaki is a pillar of the Bundaberg community. TAHLIA STEHBENS

NAIDOC: Spotlight on strong First Nations women

THIS year NAIDOC Week celebrates the strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and the pivotal roles they play in culture and community.

The slogan "because of her, we can” aims to recognise the invaluable contributions first nations women have made and continue to make.

Aboriginal elder Diana Fetiaki is just one example of a strong, independent woman celebrating NAIDOC this week.

She said it was great women were being recognised this year.

"In the early years they were killed and raped, and if that wasn't bad enough they had their children taken off them,” she said.

"This is why women have got so strong now and protective of their kids.”

The Aboriginal elder thanks her mother and grand-mother for her strength, saying her mix of South Sea Islander blood had moulded her into the person she is today.

"My Aboriginal history comes from my dad's side that goes back to the story of The Leap baby,” she said.

"My great-great-grandmother fell to her death up at The Leap at Mackay, and if it hadn't been for the baby that survived, I wouldn't be here today because that's my dad's grandmother, the baby they call The Leap baby.”

In 1867 a group of local Aboriginal people were accused by settlers of spearing cattle and were set upon by the Native Police Force. The Leap is now recognised as a massacre site.

Aunty Diana, as she is known in the wider Bundaberg community, has been deeply involved in the progression of her culture for more than 30 years.

The elder sits on a vast range of groups and committees, but said her school-based play groups teaching indigenous culture was where it all started.

"I walk down the street and hear all the little kids saying 'Hi Aunty Diana,' and I'm Aunty Diana to the kids whether they're black, white or what,” she said.

But the friendly face hasn't escaped her fair share of tough times.

She's suffered a lifetime of migranes, seizures, a car accident, a bout of Bell's palsy paralysis, six strokes and has even fought her way back from brain surgery with a "can do” attitude.

"Every time I have a stroke I have to re-learn how to do everything, and it's always on the right side, but I just get up and do it,” she said.

"Raising five kids as a single mother, it was important for me to be there in everything they did.”

"Aboriginal culture is about family and that's the way I've raised mine.”