Mob Pod: Florence Drummond – Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia
Florence Drummond, Dauareb Wuthathi woman, CEO and Co-Founder of Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia (IWIMRA), is focused on raising the profile of Indigenous women in the mining and resources sector. Starting as a social network, Florence realised this conversation was missing from the industry, in which now the IWIMRA network is striving to contribute to. Working with industry partners and building best practice initiatives, IWIMRA is ensuring that they are co-creating opportunities that will enable pathways to leadership and future-focused roles. Florence also shares her thoughts on NAIDOC week this year.
LG: Hello everyone I’m Lisa Gissing Westpac’s Davidson Institute, and today we’re speaking with Florence Drummond Co-founder and CEO of Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia. Welcome Florence!
FD: Hi Lisa, thank you for having me.
LG: Before we begin I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the various lands in which we all meet, and pay my respects to elders both past and present.
LG: I also acknowledge and pay respect to those here today who identify as being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and recognise the diversity of indigenous peoples, countries, and culture in Australia. As Australia’s first bank we acknowledge our role in supporting an inclusive and diverse nation where all of our cultural backgrounds are recognised and respected.
LG: So Florence, let’s start today with you telling us a little bit more about yourself and Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia.
FD: Yes, thank you Lisa. So I am a Dauareb Wuthathi woman from far north Queensland, I was born and raised up on Thursday Island. And if anyone knows where that is, it is all the way up in north Queensland. So born and raised there, went to high school down here in Brisbane, I went to boarding school for my high school period.
FD: I left there and did a lot of work in hospitality and events, really loved it, but really missed home. So that took me back up closer to home which was Weipa. And there I went to, I found myself employment in the mining industry. So at a bauxite operations there up in Weipa in which I stayed there for seven years and that essentially was a birth for IWIMRA, Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia.
FD: So essentially why I did it or why I set it up, was because being an operator myself, being in the industry, I really lived the experience of what it was like to be an indigenous woman in there, and yeah really found opportunities to improve, but more so because of the lack of information and access to progression or education around employment and better opportunities.
LG: Now I see that you’ve been listed in Women in Mining U.K.’s 100 Global Inspiration Women In Mining, and recently attended the United Nations 63rd commission on the Status of Women in New York. Can I say first of all congratulations, now could you tell us a little bit more about these achievements and what these recognitions mean to you, and to the organisation?
FD: Absolutely. Thank you so much, and it really was something that was so surreal more than anything you know. Being born and raised in a community, and you know attempting Uni a couple of times, and not finishing that and then being an operator, and you know just being someone who didn’t really validate or value themselves at all, more than anything in terms of my achievements and what that was.
FD: But I really with IWIMRA growing, I really strive to learn more, and it took me to the international platform to think about, well if we’re not here being represented or being informed or being included or participating more than anything, how can we ever expect that to be impactful on the ground.
FD: So yes, it took me to UN in New York, it was snowing over there when I went there, but it was really an eyeopener for me. I think that life experience more than anything impacted my curiosity to learn more, and gave me a lot of self-belief, that I could do things.
FD: I came back. When I was in New York I was still an operator. You know I came back to my day job as an operator, but it really stoked the fire in me to want to learn more. Making global friends, and really being in a group with other people who are just. You know the people in the WIM 100 alumni they are all CFOs and COOs, and all these amazing things.
FD: They’re all university qualified and all of that, and it really gave me a bit of appreciation for what IWIMRA stands for more than anything, and I think it’s really a lighthouse for many more indigenous women in the sector, to strive to do better.
LG: Now as a leader, what have been some of your most valuable lessons learnt throughout your career, and what would be your advice to other aspiring leaders out there?
FD: Lisa, honestly this has always been an interesting label for me, it was really difficult for me to except that label, as a leader, because you know I’m only a young woman, and you don’t really go and self-identify and call yourself a leader.
FD: But of course, to kind of make sense of it all, you do start to become labelled in that way, which is great and I think more than anything it’s one of the lessons I’ve learnt is: how do you accept responsibility, but through success as well. Being a leader is more than just celebrating your own personal progress, it’s more about our responsibility to your communities as well, so definitely to my IWIMRA network.
FD: I think that’s definitely been one of my lessons for me as a leader or as an advisor in the industry and to industry. But definitely I think more than anything it’s really about taking ownership of what we have in front of us, and understanding that leadership and success in progress can be interpreted in so many ways, and there’s so many opportunities.
FD: So really about making the most of those opportunities as well. As an indigenous woman, I think more so on a personal level it really, I really have to grow my courage, and that’s inner strength around showing up for myself, knowing that I could impact on a greater level. If I make sure that I’m well rested, I’m well informed, I’m well hydrated, and knowing that we’re all loved in the sense that we’re doing it for our families and our communities as well.
LG: Some great advice there. Now if I just put a spotlight on the organisation. So as a CEO, how important is planning and money management in, I guess, the success of the organisation?
FD: Such a priority! Honestly, it’s still taking me time to learn that, honestly, building my business capacity has been one the most challenging things myself, because I never really wanted to make this networking space into a business.
FD: That was something that I thought, oh no it’s just something that is for us women to hang out and have a yarn, and make sure that we’re all good, but it really came to a point where I have to think about: how do I develop this stronger, and how do I make it available for many more people?
FD: And of course, I needed it to become a business. Definitely, planning for me is a big thing, and really understanding how to access tools around my own education, and building my capacity as a business person, around governance, around financial literacy, around liability, obligation, tax, things like that. That is so beyond my head.
FD: But it really helped with employing and being with other people who are experts in the field and understanding that I have to work as a team take to get through this and work our strengths as well. So very important both those aspects that you spoke of.
LG: Now NAIDOC Week is coming up. Now what does NAIDOC Week mean to Florence Drummond, and how will you be celebrating the week this year?
FD: Yeah very good question! I think really making up for last year, I think many of us will really be making up for that. For myself, I think what it means to me more than anything, when I was a child it was always a week of celebration. FD: Yeah very good question! I think really making up for last year, I think many of us will really be making up for that. For myself, I think what it means to me more than anything, when I was a child it was always a week of celebration.
FD: When I was in primary school, to celebrate our cultural, and our heritage and our food as well. But for me now as an adult, it’s more about: how do we share and celebrate through education, and you bring many more people along and if it’s through culture and celebration in food as well then it’s a great starting point.
FD: What I’ll be doing this year? I think I’ve got a few seminars or some speaking gigs that I do have, but again it’s more about demonstrating education and utilising that week to start a conversation.
LG: Sounds great! And finally how do people get in touch with you and the Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia if they want to find out more?
FD: Yes! We’re across a few platforms and always developing, so definitely our Facebook page we are there, our LinkedIn page is still a little bit silent at the moment but it’s there and it’s starting. We do have a website as well, but definitely my email address which I will leave with you, to get in touch directly!
LG: Wonderful! So today we’ve been speaking with Florence Drummond co-founder and CEO of Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia. Thank you Florence!
FD: Thank you Lisa!