October 2018, marks nineteen years of service for Apunipima’s Community Engagement Officer Robert Corrie, or as he is known across Cape York, Uncle Robbie Senior.
Uncle Robbie joined Apunipima in 1999, when Apunipima was much smaller, yet equally passionate about the health of Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander people in Cape York. At that time, Apunipima was operating from a small office on Anderson Street in Cairns, and worked purely in the health leadership and advocacy space.
Over the last nineteen years, he has seen the organisation grow into one of the largest Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in the country that is now a nationally recognised leader in Indigenous Health.
Prior to joining Apunipima, Uncle Robbie had spent fifteen years working for Queensland Health and held positions at a regional level for much of that time. In fact, he was a key influencer in the development and implementation of an independent career pathway for Indigenous Health Workers in Queensland.
The opportunity to join Apunipima also meant he was able to return to living full time with his family who were based in Cairns. In the years he was with Queensland Health he had worked away in Weipa and the Cape, often for months at a time.
Over the years Uncle Robbie has witnessed a great deal of change both in Indigenous health delivery in the Cape and at an organisational level at Apunipima.
There is a lot that can be learned from a person who has spent nineteen years working with the same organisation. It is apparent from the way staff interact with him, ask for his counsel and rely on his strong relationships throughout Cape York that Uncle Robbie is an important, valued and deeply respected member of the Apunipima Family.
When asked what he loves about his work, he is quick to respond, “I love the Cape. I love the people. I’m lucky.”
No Uncle Robbie, Apunipima and the people of Cape York are the lucky ones.