For 73-year-old volunteer Marilyn Robson, being part of an Indigenous community with strong ties to the Wheatbelt for most of her life has helped her reach out to provide support for both the young and the old.
Every week Marilyn visits two Aboriginal residents at Baptistcare Dryandra Residential Care in Kellerberrin providing a link back to their culture.
She said she enjoys seeing the positive difference her visits make to Marion Pickett, 56, and Malcolm Hayden 70.
Aboriginal people make up around 10 per cent of Kellerberrin’s population and Marilyn enjoys doing what she can for her community by continuing to help and celebrate the region’s Indigenous residents.
The great-grandmother was 13 when her mother had her ninth child and she was forced to leave school at 14 and find work.
“I always believed education was the key to a better life so I went back to studies at 51 and through the Department of Education, I became an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Officer,” she said.
“I didn’t have the chance to get educated before but have made up for it later in life.”
“As well as my volunteering at Baptistcare Dryandra, I try to help the young ones to understand that the most important thing to have is an education,” she said.
Marilyn is a familiar figure at Baptistcare Dryandra and in the local town where she uses her beliefs, culture and shared understanding to make a positive impact on her people.
Marilyn has three children, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren and believes in the strength of family.
Using a storyboard of pictures, Marilyn helps residents recall and share memories from their past. She also joins in on the regular campfire sessions held during winter.
Baptistcare Dryandra’s lifestyle coordinator Shizuka Yokoi said Marilyn’s commitment to her community and her visits were very welcome.
Marilyn is one of 16 volunteers who visit Baptistcare Dryandra on a regular basis to help support staff and provide companionship and activities for the residents.
Read more: Aged care heroes awarded
Read more: Aboriginal aged care centre ‘vital’