Carol Martin receives the Order of Australia Medal

Carol Martin OAM

Carol Martin OAM, Elia Board Director

Elia Board Director Carol Martin has received the Order of Australia Medal in recognition of her service to the Parliament of Western Australia and to the Indigenous community as part of the King’s Birthday Honours list.

We are already honoured to have Carol as one of our Board Directors — in 2011 she was the first Aboriginal woman ever elected as a member of any Australian parliament, paving the way for future indigenous representatives. Since Carol, there have been five Aboriginal women elected to the parliament from the Kimberley region. “You know, I think I might have started a trend,” Carol said of her historical achievement.

Carol has the lived experience of being a young person removed both from the family and culture, becoming a ward of the state when she was 12 years old. Carol went on to complete a business management course, despite not having completed formal schooling, and in 1982 she moved to Derby, Western Australia, where she worked as a social worker and counsellor. Amongst other things, she worked alongside others to help return Aboriginal children who were missing in the system to their families and help Aboriginal families deal with the consequences of the Stolen Generations.

Carol has extensive training and consultancy experience, predominantly around enhancing child welfare for Aboriginal children, cross-cultural awareness and developmental and strategic processes; all of which align well with Elia’s mission:

Elia equips organisations and communities entrusted with the care of vulnerable children, in any culture or country, to do everything possible to place the responsibility for the child’s safety and healing with the parents, children and everyone naturally connected to the family.

Wherever possible, Elia supports organisations and communities working with other vulnerable people to use our approaches to enable their work to be more participatory. 

“So many of these children have no voice, and their parents live in the same cycle of poverty with very few opportunities to break that cycle.”

Carol says “My own nightmare is knowing that there are 50,000 Aboriginal children in Western Australia. Of those, 2,955 Aboriginal children are in protective care, and fostered in the out of home care (OOHC) system. This makes up 58% of the 5,093 children in care. The issue with this is these children have become the core of an industry that removes Aboriginal children and places them into the OOHC arena. Aboriginal people only make up 3.2% of the population in WA, yet the children leave care and can be found easily…they end up in hospital, prison, as mental health patients, or welfare recipients living in a cycle of poverty perpetuated by the need to fund NGO’s who contract to the Governments in the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. So many of these children have no voice, and their parents live in the same cycle of poverty with very few opportunities to break that cycle.”

We are incredibly proud of Carol and especially now that her achievements in giving these children a voice has been recognised. Congratulations Carol!