Hedland's Maureen Kelly has been announced as a finalist for Female Elder of the Year in the 2012 National NAIDOC Awards.
Mrs Kelly, who was born in Port Hedland and has spent her life helping indigenous people in the Pilbara, is the first Yindjibarndi woman to make the finals in the category and will be flying to Hobart for the award ceremony next week.
A mother of five, grandmother of 11 and great-grandmother of three, Mrs Kelly runs her own consultancy business, Sing-Kenken Solutions, which specialises in governance, mentoring and leadership workshops for indigenous people.
She also volunteers at St Vincent de Paul in South Hedland and is the attendance officer for Yandeyarra Remote Community School.
According to the 62-year-old, her life so far has been about pushing people in the right direction.
“I try to encourage as many people as I can to take that one step, and that next step, and that next step, and when you get there, take someone else with you,” she said.
“When I run workshops I’m straight out there.
“I talk there language, I don’t talk this educative, collaborative approach, I talk their slang and terminology and they relate to it straight up.
“It’s motivation and support, you’re always grooming and pushing, grooming and pushing.”
For Mrs Kelly, the knowledge people are taking messages away from her workshops is enough to keep her going.
“I’m not a full-on Christian or anything, but I think no matter what you believe in, if you give, then you’ll get good karma back,” she said.
“That’s just the way the world works, you can’t take all the time, and it’s why I’m still giving.”