With regret, Flinders NT acknowledges the passing of Trisha Maroney.
Trisha was a proud Wardaman woman from the Katherine region and an experienced speech pathologist with a passion for Aboriginal health and sharing her knowledge and skills with students. Trish will be sadly missed.
Trisha’s early life was spent in Atherton Queensland, raised by her mother’s white adoptive family. She completed high school in the Barossa Valley in South Australia and entered the speech pathology training course at Flinders University in 1996, graduating in 2000.
After graduation she spent time in various part time roles while setting up a private practice in Gawler (SA). Early in 2006 Trisha commenced part time work at Muna Paeindi Communtiy Health Centre. In this position she implemented school screening programs, weekly Speech clinics and developed Nunga Playgroups in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide. Trisha ultimately went on to become the Manager at Muna Paeindi Community Health Centre. This experience fed her passion for working in early childhood services and Aboriginal health. It was during this period that she also met her partner, Mark.
Trisha had a strong sense of her Aboriginal heritage and was determined to return to the Wardaman country of her mother, south west of Mataranka, in the NT, and to reconnect with her extended family. So in July 2008, Mark gained employment at Barunga where Trisha was quickly identified by cousins, aunties and other family members. Soon after Trish was employed as a Speech Pathologist by the Katherine Regional Aboriginal Health and Related Services (KRAHRS). KRAHRS seconded Trish to Sunrise Health Service and Wurli Wurlijang Health Service. Trish continued in this role providing Speech Pathology services in Katherine and at Barunga, Mataranka, Wugularr, Jilkminggan, remote Aboriginal Communities.
Trisha was tireless in her commitment to the future of the speech pathology profession through supervising students. In early 2014, Trish joined Flinders NT Rural Clinical School based in Katherine as an academic clinical supervisor for student-led clinics situated at two primary schools in Katherine (Clyde Fenton and St Joseph College) to facilitate increased access to clinical services for Aboriginal children, develop culturally safe practice skills in the next generation of clinicians, and to promote allied health recruitment and retention at the local level. She embraced the primary school program, improving the tools used with Aboriginal pupils and liaising with the families and teachers. Initiated in 2013 by Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller the S.E.L.L. (Speaking Easy for Living and Learning) program grew with Trish’s support and involvement, expanding to Good Beginning’s 2Learn parenting program. She has supervised over 20 students inspiring some of them to embrace the paediatric speech pathology practice in primary schools. Trish was passionate about bringing improvements in speech, language and communication for Aboriginal kids to increase their opportunities in life. So the speech pathology students also learned about Aboriginal culture and the context of remote health. Trisha presented the preliminary outcomes of the S.E.L.L. program at the 2015 National Rural Health Conference in Darwin.
In addition, Trisha’s willingness to teach was highly valued by medical students based in Katherine who were supported in their development of cross-cultural skills. A hard worker, Trish’s hospitality and support to students was not limited to work hours or the work environment. Many students can testify to her email, text and phone messages that assisted them in managing the challenges of placement and learning in a remote context far from their familiar setting, as well as enjoying social occasions with Trisha. Trisha invested heavily in helping students to achieve their potential. She based her supervision and work ethics on building relationships and her influence as a supervisor will live on through her students.
In May 2016, Trish was welcomed as a new staff member of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, Flinders University, with a brief to provide more formal academic teaching and Indigenous student support. Unfortunately, her time was cut short by re-occurrence of her illness.
Her sudden passing will leave an irreplaceable vacuum in the Katherine Community and she will be remembered for her big smile and kindness.
We express our sympathy to those closest to Trisha, her partner Mark DiFrancesco, their young daughter Susan, Trisha’s extended family, the communities in Katherine, and all who knew her. May you rest in peace, Trisha- you have worked hard, challenged many people in their beliefs about Aboriginal culture and history, and made the world a better place.