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4 March, 2021

Degree at 54 for beloved kindy teacher

THE future is bright as the remote Far North Queensland Aboriginal community of Hope Vale celebrates its first Early Childhood Education graduate — 54-year-old Lee-Ann Liddy.

The tertiary achievement is a significant community milestone — proving age and location are no barrier to success.

For Lee-Ann Liddy, the degree is more than just a qualification. It is an opportunity to support local children and parents during the vital early years of child development.

“I have worked with many teachers and they normally leave Hope Vale after a few years. I want to be the stable one for our children,” Ms Liddy said.

Lee-Ann will be able to draw on both her lived experiences and new qualification to help ensure strong foundations for generations of children in Hope Vale.

As Director of the C&K Hope Vale George Bowen Memorial Community Kindergarten, which is operated by Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council, she hopes her journey inspires more local women to pursue study and career opportunities.

Her perseverance and achievements in her studies and career over more than 35 years is inspiring for all Queenslanders.

The Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP) works with community, for community, by supporting local decision-making and aspirations for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders to thrive culturally, socially and economically.

The department’s Cape and Torres Principal Project Officer Kerry-Lee Bird and former Director of Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council Social Services was among Lee-Ann’s first supervisors and their friendship remains strong.

Ms Bird mentored Lee-Ann as she balanced work and study over the years to upgrade her qualifications from certificates and diplomas, to become degree-qualified in 2020.

“From day one, Lee-Ann was always on time, eager to learn and diligently prepared for classes in her own time outside of work hours,” Ms Bird said.

“I am incredibly proud of Lee-Ann and all of her achievements, including the community legacy she is creating.”

Due to COVID-19, Ms Liddy was unable to attend her Deakin University graduation in Melbourne in June, however, family and friends are planning a celebration to recognise her achievement.

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