© 2019 by Not Just Black and White Book

After the book’s release Tammy had an unexpected change to her career.

While working as a Children’s Commissioner Tammy was asked to join the senior leadership team of the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Partnerships (DATSIP). 

While working in the department, Tammy’s contribution to shaping government strategic and legal policy to improve social and economic outcomes for First Nation’s Queenslanders was recognised, and she was asked to assume the chief executive’s responsibilities for eight months and hence appointed the Acting Director General.

Although Tammy was celebrated as being the first Aboriginal person in Queensland to hold this position for a substantial period and to appear, in this capacity, in Parliament House on behalf of the department at an Estimates Hearing, the irony of the accolade was not lost on her and her family.

“For many in our community, especially those from an older generation, they regard the notorious Department of Native Affairs - overseen by the once feared ‘Chief Protector' – as the predecessor to the present department” Tammy reflects.

“To have grown up, as I did, being very much aware of the impact the policies and laws administered by the former department had on my family; I was – as was Mum – psychologically confronted with the decision of accepting my appointment.  It gave cause to reflect on the journey thus far… of our own individual journeys and that of our people.”

Lesley adds:

“I told Tammy, ‘sometimes change has to come from within.’  These days, as I have experienced first-hand, there are lots of good people working in government and they are committed to working with our mob to find solutions that will improve our life outcomes.  So, I encouraged Tammy to take the job, but I made sure to remind her: she might be a ‘big wig’ now but that doesn’t mean she can boss me around at home, because I’ll always be her Elder!”

“It was an honour to join, and then lead, the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP)… to do my bit to influence the policy direction of government for the greater good of our people” Tammy reflects. “As Mum foreshadowed, it was a tremendous opportunity to work alongside some of the hardest working public servants in the State.  Together we achieved a lot in such a short space of time.”    

Some of these joint achievements include: implementing Tammy’s commitment to organisational diversity and building the capability of its staff; resulting in 60% of the senior executive positions being held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.   The department also exceeded its various socio-economic targets and continued to facilitate the return of land to traditional owners.

But perhaps one of the department’s many policy outcomes that Tammy is most proud to have been involved with, is the Queensland Government’s commitment to developing a model that will give rise to the legal recognition of traditional child rearing practices – an Indigenous custom which has been observed by Torres Strait Islander families for thousands of years.   This has been an issue which Tammy has advocated for long before she was a Children’s Commissioner.   

These days Tammy is enjoying a sojourn and spending time at home with her young family before commencing a senior executive position in the private sector.