TWENTY-NINE years ago Amanda Toomey moved to Bathurst with a dream of becoming an early childhood educator.
She enrolled in a tertiary preparation certificate, and two years later was accepted into Mitchell College of Advanced Education, to study teaching.
It was the realisation of a life long dream for Amanda, who 25 years ago this week, following her graduation, began work as an Indigenous early childhood educator at Towri MACS.
To recognise her dedication to generations of children who have passed through the service, a plaque was erected at the entrance of the building on Wednesday.
Aunty as she is known to the children, said it was always her goal to be an early childhood teacher, a dream that became a reality thanks largely to the support of her mum, Roma.
“I was always interested in teaching, I used to baby sit when I was younger and always loved looking after the kids. The kids have always been part of my life,” she said.
Aunty said it was significant she reached her 25 year milestone in education in 2018, the same year the NAIDOC theme was “Because of her I can.”
She attributes her success solely to her mum Roma, and the input and influence she had in her life.
When the plaque was unveiled at Towri MACS, the first thing she said was “I wish mum was here to see it, she would be so proud.”
“Mum was a big influence in my life, and I know she’s watching over me,” she said.
“I know she’d really like that [the plaque].”
When asked what she loves most about her career, Aunty said it was the children.
“It’s always for the kids, they are my focus.”
She said she also loves being part of Towri MACS, and what it achieves in the community.
“It’s very important to educate people, both Indigenous and non Indigenous about our culture,” she said.
She said she also loves to be a positive role model to children.
“I want the kids to know that they can achieve anything they want; that’s why I love it here.”
She said the work Towri MACS does in educating the next generation of kids about Indigenous culture was vital.
“Towri MACS was and is a big part of me, my mum was also part of this, its the reason me and my brothers, (Tyrone a psychologist, and Scott who also works in education) are where we are.”
In addition to her work at Towri, Aunty also volunteers for Shine for Kids and up at the jail.
The service is a national charity supporting children with a parent in the criminal justice system. She said she finds the volunteering rewarding.
‘“I just think its good for them (the kids) to have a positive role model,” she said.
Director of Towri MACS, Courtney Glazebrook said Amanda was amazing role model loved by generations of children who have come through the service.
“Aunty is an Indigenous early childhood educator who has made an enormous contribution to the Aboriginal community. She supports families and is always here to help them not only through her role as an early childhood educator but also in a holistic sense.
“She has a wealth of knowledge in early child hood education, and provides the children here with beautiful cultural experiences, and so nurturing and kind,
“Se is an amazing role model for all Indigenous women, and has paved the way for leadership.
Ms Glazebook said the children at Towri adore her.
“She’s been caring for generations of Aboriginal children and they all respect and love her, there are really no words to describe the work she has done.”