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Inside Teaching : June 2010
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org 20 QUESTIONS 35 in the world that I belonged. I had always had a very strong sense of belonging to all Indigenous communities around Australia and I didn't really want to go the hardline business or corporate route. Helping others by using my profile was a natural choice for me. My manager, Jane Cowmeadow, was fabulous and supported me with my hopes for the community that my mother was born into 71 years ago, which led to the inception of the Catherine Freeman Foundation. Tell us about your first project on Palm Island. It's my mother's birth place as well as Australia's fourth most disadvantaged community. It has 90 per cent unemployment due to the lack of infrastructure and opportunity; 80 per cent of the children have permanent mild to moderate hearing damage, making it a challenge for them to learn and read; less then 10 per cent of Year 7 students on Palm Island meet minimum National Assessment Program -- Literacy and Numeracy or NAPLAN standards for reading and writing; and only 350 housing structures exist for more than 3,500 residents of the island, resulting in overcrowded living conditions. Our non-truancy program gives Palm Island children an incentive to attend school by using bikes. It's achieved success with an improvement in school attendance. Will there be an ongoing commitment to the Palm Island project or will there be a point when the Catherine Freeman Foundation can pull out and put its resources elsewhere? I want the Catherine Freeman Foundation to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to Palm Island, but I'm sure a point will come when we will partner with other Indigenous communities as well. I guess I'd like the Catherine Freeman Foundation to be as effective and efficient as our potential allows and this means building and maintaining strong relationships with governments and other partners in the private and corporate sectors. How do you see the Catherine Freeman Foundation growing in the future and how can students and schools help promote and support its work? I've had many a discussion about the long-term goals of the Catherine Freeman Foundation; however, my focus is on what challenges we are up against today. I'd love for my foundation to be still achieving results long after I'm gone. We are having our first major flagship annual fundraising event in October from Monday the 18th to Friday the 22nd, called the Champion of Hope Fun Run. We're asking schools to host a fun run event at their own school in order to raise funds for the children of Palm Island. To get involved, schools can go to our website and register. We would love as many schools as possible to be part of this exciting event. We're hoping to raise at least $400,000 to keep our educational and wellbeing programs going for the community of Palm Island. Finally, what's the thing you would have liked me to have asked? What's the most important thing to me? Probably my sense of humour! What's something that's really made you laugh recently? Now this is a hard answer to give because I've a few funny moments to pick from. I've a couple of friends with whom I always share a fantastic hearty laugh. Together we often recollect a very funny moment that, unfortunately, is usually at my husband's expense. It's gotten to the point now that whenever my friends and I go back to that moment, we always find ourselves laughing hysterically, but now my husband realises that being at the centre of a very funny situation ain't such a bad thing after all. Thank you, Catherine Freeman. David Rish is an award-winning writer for children and a regular contributor to Inside Teaching. LINKS To support the work of the Catherine Freeman Foundation, visit www. catherinefreemanfoundation.com * Okay, okay, if you counted the questions you'd know there are more than 20. ** See Catherine's episode of the SBS series 'Who Do You Think You Are?' Image by Gregory Myers.