Aunty Catherine 'Cath' Solomon is a devoted advocate, supporting the Aboriginal people of Victoria's Gippsland region. She has strived to improve the quality of community health and in doing so has earned the respect of all her community whilst touching the lives of many people along the way.
Article Source: Catherine 'Cath' Solomon, Aboriginal Victoria Honour Roll
Born in Bundaberg, Queensland 1939, one of eight children, Aunty Cath belongs to the Tribelang Bunda clan of the Gureng Gureng people. She grew up a happy child, yet the struggles of poverty were ever present in her household with the memory of one particular Christmas leaving her and her siblings without any gifts. It was an event which inspired her to live generously and give to those less fortunate, particularly children.
In 1957 she married Max Solomon, a Manero man from Victoria; together they moved and lived in Obost, East Gippsland. During her time there, she joined the Salvation Army where she taught Sunday school and developed as a leader within the organisation.
Aunty Cath had a natural talent and love for sport; it was through the participation of sport that she discovered a means to overcome the racist barriers that were prevalent in her society. Participation of sport was something that she encouraged her children to do as well. Moving later with her family to Bairnsdale, she continued to play and excel at squash.
Whilst in Bairnsdale, Aunty Cath worked with Kilmany Family Care where she looked after Aboriginal children in out-of-home care; over a six and half year period, she cared for more than 80 children. It was a role she continued after the Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-operative (GEGAC) assumed control of the organisation.
Whilst at GEGAC, Aunty Cath then turned her attention to the debilitating social effects of drug and alcohol abuse where over a 15 year period, she counselled and supported Koorie women suffering from alcohol dependence by offering classes in sewing, cooking and by lending a friendly ear. Her work extended to awareness by introducing programs into local primary and secondary schools teaching children of all ages the perils of drug and alcohol dependency.
Aunty Cath has also been a key voice in improving justice outcomes for Aboriginal people in the Gippsland region having served as an honorary probation officer and as an Elder in the Koorie Court in Bairnsdale where she was often called upon by the police to help young people in need.
She was also the initiator of the Lakes Entrance New Year’s Eve Koorie Marshalling program which has helped foster positive relations between police and Aboriginal revellers during New Year’s Eve celebrations in the Lakes Entrance.
Aunty Cath's commitment to providing pastoral care for Aboriginal children and youth continued through the implementation of the Koorie Kids Church which operates twice a week for children between 7 to 14, a program which aims to raise awareness of family violence within the community.
Aunty Catherine Solomon's commitment to the betterment of the lives of Aboriginal people is second to none. From combating racism, to education and sport, community engagement, supporting children in out-of-home care, spreading awareness of drug and alcohol abuse, improving the justice outcomes for Aboriginal people and improving relations with local law enforcement, Aunty Cath's gentle touch has reached and changed the lives of many in her local community.
Her work has earned her widespread respect and admiration as she still continues to tackle the impact of poverty and disadvantage both in her local community and abroad, supporting disadvantaged children by preparing and sending gift packs.