Tracey Reid remembers the big flood of 1972 on Roxby Station, when almost all the buildings were underwater, including her home, the sheds and the stockyard. ‘The place was completely flooded,’ she says. ‘We had to go in and out on a boat to try and save as much as we could, but pretty much everything was destroyed.’
Two years later Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin, and Tracey Reid and her siblings sat on the side of the road handing out water, cordial and cups of soup to carloads of people heading south from the devastated city.
Much of Tracey’s childhood was spent on Country and in Port Augusta, living around Villa and Davenport, listening to stories and language. Her ancestors – the Reids – were some of the first children to be placed in what was the Umeewarra Mission, before it became Davenport.
‘I was born in Port Augusta and had a strong loving relationship with my grandmother Susie Captain Reid, who was a Kokatha cultural woman and did a lot of dancing for Country in Port Augusta and in and around Roxby,’ says Tracey. ‘My grandmother was very strong on her culture and taught all her granddaughters Kokatha way of life.’
Her father, Frank Binda Reid, and mother, Janice Reid, (who was also a Kokatha woman) lived on Country. ‘Those were the happiest day of our childhood for me and my brothers and cousins learning off our Elders, which we now pass down to our next generation,’ Tracey says. ‘My grandmother spoke Kokatha and Dad taught me a lot of the stories. He took us back on Country telling us about our people from generation to generation.’
It’s her passion for culture and her desire to keep that connection to Country going that inspired Tracey to nominate for the Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation Board, which she was elected onto in February. ‘It felt really good (to be elected),’ she says. ‘I just really want to be there for my community to help and support them.’
As an Aboriginal health practitioner, Tracey has spent her whole career helping others. ‘I’ve always been there for the community and the people,’ she says. ‘I’m not afraid to speak up about their health and I go out to the Elders to support them. It’s all about the people.’
She also started a Kokatha netball team, which has steadily grown over the years, with last year reaching a record number of players.
Tracey’s priorities during her time on the KAC Board are supporting the community, especially the Elders, and keeping the Kokatha culture alive and well. ‘We were the most fearsome tribe in SA,’ she says. ‘Kokatha people were very protective of their boundaries. If they had a bad feeling about someone then they didn’t muck around.’
Tracey hopes that by sharing her knowledge of the past, she can also empower young Kokatha people to take on leadership roles within the organisation. ‘My main aim it to work with the next generation so they can join the workforce but also have a strong knowledge of Kokatha culture and eventually become leaders in the community,’ she says.