Earlier this week Keelen Mailman was awarded the Barnardos Queensland Mother of the Year award 2016.
Its an award that recognises every-day mums and great women who go above and beyond to care for children in our communities.
For the ever humble Keelen, it was an opportunity to meet and celebrate like minded mums.
“It’s an absolute honour and a very proud moment for me,” she says.
“The other finalists are beautiful people, and the Barnardos staff made us feel so comfortable, they couldn’t do enough to make it special for us all.
“It really was a beautiful experience.”
Nominated by her foster Daughter, Fay Anderson, Keelen knows what life is like on the other side.
Growing up, their family didn’t have much, and at the age of 38 Keelen’s mother suffered a severe stroke.
It was 12 year old Keelen who took it upon her own shoulders to look after her brothers, sisters and mum.
With or without the award, she says she would keep on doing what she’s doing.
“I don’t know if it will really change me at all that much, it’s an absolute honour, but I’ll just go along doing what I’ve always done and be there to give advice and help,” she says.
“I never sort of looked at it is as foster care to be quiet honest; I’m aunty to a lot of nieces and nephews of all different races and ages and genders.
“I just look at it as taking them in and giving love, it doesn’t cost anything to give them that,” says Keelen.
Keelen is the first Indigenous woman in Australia to manage a cattle station, Mount Tabor Station, near Augathella.
She’s taken her many kids out there to experience life in the outback, in Keelen’s opinion it’s one of the best upbringings a child can have.
“Children are our future, they’re innocent little people, so it’s about being an inspiration and a mentor and guide them and be their ear and just give love and cuddles and discipline as well.
“Just having them out here, hearing their stories and watching them grow, I’d do it time and time again, I just tackle it mate, tackle it as it comes along,” she says.
At the start of May Keelen will head on down to Sydney for a few days of pampering, before the National Award for Barnardos Mother of the Year which will be announced on May 5th.
“I can’t wait to get down to meet the other beautiful mums who are finalists, to hear their stories because I love to hear everyones journey.
“I’d like to mention all the Barnardos staff, and all of the sponsors, they’re all pretty special people too.
“Also a huge thank you to all the people out there that have given me their well wishes and congratulations,” says Keeleen.
She’s certainly a very impressive woman, and this award is just the tip of the iceberg of the Keelen Mailman story.
Plus More news previously wrote…
A huge congratulations must go to one of our most well known local faces, Keelen Mailman, for taking out the title of Queensland’s Barnardos Mother of the Year for 2016.
For anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Keelen, you will know she is the kindest of souls you could find.
Keelen was nominated by her foster daughter, Fay Anderson and is described as ‘the true Aussie survivor who has been caring for children since she was just a child’.
The Barnardos Mother of the Year 2016 – Queensland Finalists page writes the following about Keelen.
Keelen Mailman, 49, is a true survivor, rising above a background of poverty, sexual abuse and racism to reach out and offer unconditional love and protection to children in need, starting when she herself was just a child. A mere 12 years old when her own beloved mother suffered a severe stroke, Keelen immediately stepped in to raise her brothers and sisters and to care for her incapacitated mum. More recently, Keelen, who is the first Aboriginal woman to manage a cattle station and the author of The Power of Bones, heeded a cry for help from five nieces and nephews living in intolerable conditions, and represented herself in court to successfully obtain full guardianship of the siblings.
“My family of one became a family of six. They came from nothing at all. They were my children not just my nieces and nephews,” Keelen says.
Keelen is nominated by her foster daughter, Fay Anderson, who credits her aunt for saving her from a life of abuse, neglect and despair.
“Around 14 years ago I didn’t want to live anymore,” says Fay. “How could I hurt so much and still be here on this earth? Let down time and time again by my own parents.
“Aunty Kay became the mother I dreamed of. The mother I always wanted. When someone asks me, ‘Who pushes you to want something so big for yourself?’ all I can say is that I want everything the world has to offer because of this beautiful woman. “She taught me to never accept less then I deserve; I wish I could give her the world. I hope she knows how much I love her.”
Charleville Plus More will follow up on Keelen’s success in the coming days, but in the meantime we wish her our warmest congratulations.