Born in Cairns, Diana is a Torres Strait Islander Aunty to four nephews and two nieces. Diana discusses her role as an Aunty and how her family is trying to keep their culture alive. Because Diana doesn’t have children of her own, she finds it very hard not to spoil her nephews and nieces.
DIANA: I’m Diana. I come from Cairns, far north Queensland, and I was raised in Atherton, Tabelands.
INTERVIEWER: You’ve got nieces and nephews?
DIANA: I’ve got a few nieces and nephews, yeah.
INTERVIEWER: How many have you got?
DIANA: I’ve got about four nephews and two nieces. Well, I think one of the things we do as a family, because we come from a single parent family – so there’s my mum and my two sisters … we’re like four women getting together with the kids. And I think it’s just grandmother and aunties and the sisters with their kids. And what’s special about us when we get together is we really do that when we’ve time away from work and we can get together. And we usually do that. We try to make up for those times on special occasions, and it’s really special for us to get together as a group and as a family … We do a lot of reminiscing about our culture and that … We talk about things like granddad, and my mum would be there and we’d always talk about stories about nan and granddad and aunty, and we’d talk catch up about who we’d bumped into and the people that we saw … We’d talk about people that we see and that’s catching up with stuff, that’s getting together with the kids.
… Two of us live here in Cairns … one of my sisters [is] in Cairns with the kid … We go up there to mum and my other sister who’s got kids and we make a night of it. We go up, we might spend the night up there or we’ll get together on Saturday and we’ll organise a big feed and Jude, my sister, she’ll do the roast and mum will come with something for all the grandchildren. And we’ll come – you know, aunties coming with stuff as well. And it truly is actually part of our culture because that’s the way we grew up, and we’re still sort of clinging to that. I mean, we lost our grandparents who taught us that culture, but we’re still trying to keep that culture. And part of that culture is everybody from that family – the grandparents, the aunties and uncles, and the kids – all get together and do stuff together.
INTERVIEWER: You make sure you pass that down?
DIANA: Yeah … My family is Torres Strait Islander and one of my sisters, her partner, is a local Aboriginal boy and his mother was born up in the Tablelands. She actually was born under a tree in Herberton. She recently passed away too, so we keep that culture together as well. So now we’ve lost our Elders, we actually celebrate a lot together with my in-laws … Now, when we do get together, it’s all of us – it’s all the aunties and uncles from either side – and we get to do something together, and it’s keeping it together.
INTERVIEWER: Do you try to get back to Torres Strait with your family as well?
DIANA: My grandparents were born in the Torres Straits, but they actually came here after the war and settle in Babinda, and they had their children in Babinda. So some of my aunties and uncles are married to – have – Aboriginal partners. So I’ve got Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture as well.
INTERVIEWER: As an aunty do you spoil the kids or do you try to discipline them?
DIANA: I’m terrible because I don’t have kids of my own. I would just give them whatever they want. I made a mistake of that once, taking them shopping … I took them down the lolly isle and I said pick out a packet. Three children, and it’s almost a fist-fight and it took half an hour to get them out of there … My sister said to me one thing you learn as a parent, you never offer the child to make a choice because they will never make up their mind. You’ve got to make up their mind for them.
INTERVIEWER: Is there anything else you want to say?
DIANA: I think that’s [it] in a nutshell. I think I did say it in a nutshell. That relates – I think a lot of people, Indigenous people in the community, even non-Indigenous people and people from other cultures, would really relate to that story because we’re working more and becoming more nuclear families than before.