Tammy Small is proud to have her family values based in the Wiradjuri nation’s values. Her cultural identity means so much to her.
Tammy enjoyed roleplaying as a school teacher with her younger sisters as a child. This led to her decision to study and become a teacher. Whilst in high school she wanted to attend a private boarding school. However, financial struggles within her family made that dream impossible. She is proud that her efforts to enact change meant that should her son want to attend a boarding school, she has worked to put herself in a position to make that happen. One of the most inspirational people in Tammy's life is her mother. Tammy explains that despite inescapable poverty in the Western Sydney suburb of Mount Druitt, her mother, on a single income, managed to give Tammy and her siblings the best possible opportunities.
Tammy works as the Manager Projects, Indigenous Advancement in the Indigenous Strategy Unit, located in Woolyungah Centre at the University of Wollongong (UOW). She not only works for the Indigenous community at UOW but also the wider university community, so that there is a more political approach to understanding with each other and across cultures.
“I enjoy working with the wider university to build their knowledge and understanding of how to engage with Indigenous peoples, the community and students. There needs to be a strong focus on how to streamline approaches that make it easier for us to feel validated in non-Aboriginal places of education”.
Tammy takes an educational and academic approach to Indigenous student activism. She believes that Indigenous Australians have the responsibility to safeguard the Indigenous languages that have stood the test of time. She expressed that instead of non-Indigenous Australians asking what errors have been made when it comes to Indigenous Australia, re-education needs to be involved in a reconciliation process. The questions being asked should be based on the strength-based utilisation of Indigenous knowledges.
Tammy achieved her successes through the inspiration provided by family and culture. She aims to ensure that the value of cultural knowledge is extended to her children and filters into wider university education frameworks.