My name is Margaret Martin, I’m from Derby in Western Australia, in the Kimberly Region. I am a registered midwife at Broome Regional Hospital. I am the eldest sister out of two, my mother is a Yamatji woman from the Gascoyne Region and my dad is a non-Indigenous man. I have, my immediate family is my partner and my five children. I have a fifteen year old, thirteen year old, ten year old, six year old and an 18 month old and my son is smack bang in the middle.
I was very lucky that I had a mother who was a very good role model for me. She actually studied a Bachelor of Social Work at Curtin University and I remember being a five year old little girl, sitting under those trees, looking up and thinking I am going to go here one day – and I did.
I studied the Bachelor of Midwifery, which is the undergraduate course at Curtin University. Traditionally, it was, you had to become a registered nurse first and then do a postgraduate diploma in midwifery. However, this was a direct entry course to be able to do three years in midwifery and specialise in maternal and neonatal health.
I’ve always loved mums, I’ve always loved little babies, I’ve always loved pregnant bellies, I’ve just found that life is just a miracle of a thing. But I had my first baby when I was fifteen and I actually wanted to be an obstetrician when I was in high school. Then I actually found out, while having my first baby, that obstetricians didn’t actually do the deliveries, it was midwives and then from that moment forward I just wanted to be a midwife.
As soon as I had my first baby, I went and enrolled in the Indigenous university orientation program at the Edith Cowan University, which was a bridging course basically to be able to get into mainstream tertiary entrance. I finished that in six months and when my friends were doing their TEE I had already gained tertiary entrance and started a Bachelor of Social Science. So then I got into that, I started doing my nursing at Notre Dame up here in Broome and then this Bachelor of Midwifery came up and I thought ‘wow, why do three years of nursing when I can go straight in and do my midwifery’. So I applied and I got in and I was very happy. It was a very, very trying time to do it for me. So I had four children or three children and had another baby while I was doing my studies but nothing was going to keep me down and nothing was going to keep me from that goal and it was, it’s just like any pathway in life, you know, you have obstacles, you either pick them up and take them with you, or you go around them, or jump them but you get through them and if you really want something enough you’ll get it and you strive for it and it’s just so much more sweeter when you’re standing there and they’re giving you that bachelor and they’re shaking your hand and you’re in your gown and you have your hat on and you throw it up in the air and you say ”I’m a graduate”. And just to know that you can be a proud role model for every person that you’ve ever met.
It took me about ten years, it took me about ten years. I just had a baby and I had medical problems, I had my husband died, I had so many things going on, you know, and life doesn’t stop just because you have a goal, you know life keeps going and you’ve just got to keep going with it and life will not stop for you, life stops for nobody.
I was very lucky that I had a lot of support from the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin. My challenges really were trying to get into the rhythm of the university lifestyle and there were a lot of distractions. You know, the studies you had to do at work, your clinical placements, your family life, everything. That was a lot of challenges that I did have. There was, in some of my clinical placements I actually had to deal with some racism, I wasn’t impressed but that just made me really strive harder to know that I need to be able to get this degree and work with Aboriginal people in these areas and so that they know that they’ve got culturally sensitive care and that’s one of the other reasons why I really strived to get to where I am today.
If you have any doubt about going to university, don’t. You can be anything that you want to be if you try hard enough and I didn’t think I was smart enough, but I was. I didn’t think that I was confident enough, but I was. I didn’t think that anyone would take me seriously, but I’m a senior midwife and I love what I do. I didn’t think that I would be able to do what other people do and be able to go to university and manage my family and go to work, but I do and I did and I still do, I still go to work and I have a bachelor’s degree in science and I can tell my daughter that, and my daughter wants to be a doctor because of it. So there’s another generation that is going to be looked after and be able to come into the health services world. Just do it, don’t let anyone hold you back, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re dumb, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it and then just show everybody that you can! And then when you finish, you go “Ha! Sorry, I did it!” and keep saying it forever, and you will never be as proud as you are in yourself as when you get up on that stage and you’re handed your degree. You will never be as proud as yourself, as you are in that moment.
Margaret is from Derby, WA and works as a registered midwife in Broome. As a young girl, Margret was inspired by her mum’s journey to university. After having her first child at 15, Margaret took a bridging course to get her ready for her degree. Understandably her biggest was juggling family life with her studies. The Indigenous Education Unit were there for her every step of the way through her journey.