Aunty Irene Thomas
Members statement - Today I would like to pay tribute to a most honoured woman in our Shepparton community who recently passed, Bangerang elder Aunty Irene Thomas. Aunty Irene was a selfless and kind woman with a big heart. As a mother and grandmother, Aunty Irene travelled the country to work and support her family. After settling in the Goulburn Valley, she worked as an Aboriginal educator with 45 children at Shepparton South Technical School. Widely known for captivating storytelling, Aunty Irene spent most of her life sharing and telling the stories of her culture and devotedly worked with our young people, inspiring future generations. Her storytelling abilities have been captured for posterity in several published children’s books such as 2007’s How the Murray River Was Made, which is included in libraries and schools across Victoria. She raised many children in addition to her own and helped keep many others out of the foster care system. This was the person that she was. No matter your background, no matter your situation, no matter your race or religion, there was no divide. She always had an open door and went well beyond the call of duty to help anyone in need. In 2006 Aunty Irene represented the Goulburn Valley at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, wearing a specially made possum skin cloak which is now being exhibited at Shepparton’s Bangerang Cultural Centre. Our community has certainly been made richer because of Aunty lrene’s presence and her significant contribution.