Community & Business

4 April, 2024

Fierce community advocate remembered

A STRONG, compassionate and dedicated woman has been remembered for her tireless advocacy and her “I can and I will” attitude, after she passed away peacefully on 30 January.

By Ellie Fink

Fierce community advocate remembered - feature photo

Kuku Yalanji, Takalaka, Djiru, and Djabugay woman Glenis Carrol Grogan (pictured), was a woman of extraordinary resilience and boundless compassion, taking on many roles as a community advocate, with her most recent one being the CEO of Ngoonbi Community Services Indigenous Corporation.

From her earliest days, Glenis was a vibrant spirit.

Born on 29 October 1953 at Cairns Hospital to Finley and June (nee Assan) Grogan, her early years were spent swimming in the Barron River and spending time at her home, which is now the Australia Post office in Kuranda.

As a teenager, she enjoyed going to the “Kuranda Picture”, a movie theatre in the main street, and going to community dances.

Her educational journey took her from Kuranda State Primary School to Cairns State High School, where her refusal to conform to imposed racial boundaries marked her as a fierce advocate for equality.

Despite facing discouragement from educators, Glenis's determination never wavered. Instead of pursuing further academic studies, she embarked on a path of vocational training, eventually finding her calling in the field of nursing.

Glenis's nursing career spanned decades and took her across the country, from Innisfail Hospital to remote Aboriginal homelands and indigenous communities.

Her work as a double certificate nurse and midwife showed her commitment to providing culturally sensitive care and empowering marginalised populations.

Whether delivering babies under the vast desert skies or challenging policies in hospital wards, Glenis approached her work with unwavering dedication and compassion.

Her tenure as the manager of the Aboriginal Health Program at Curtin University's Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Perth marked a major moment in her career, as she developed initiatives to integrate Indigenous perspectives into tertiary education and healthcare practices.

Through her leadership, Glenis paved the way for future generations of Indigenous health professionals, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of Australian healthcare.

Outside of her professional life, Glenis's entrepreneurial spirit and artistic talents flourished. She established an art gallery in Kuranda, showcasing the work of local artists and fostering economic opportunities for her community.

In 1983, Glenis married her husband David Simpson at her “gully home” in Kuranda, with their families close by.

Family was at the heart of Glenis's life, and she devoted herself wholeheartedly to the well-being of her son Brad and her cherished grandchildren.

Glenis’s family has remembered her as a compassionate and strong community advocate.
Glenis’s family has remembered her as a compassionate and strong community advocate.

Though Glenis and David separated many years later, they still maintained a strong friendship and worked together to raise Brad to be a strong and compassionate man.

Despite the demands of her career, Glenis always made time for her loved ones, ensuring that they felt supported and cherished.

Her generosity knew no bounds, as she opened her home and her heart to family members in need, providing love, guidance, and financial support whenever it was needed.

During her tenure as Ngoonbi CEO, Glenis had many accomplishments. She played a vital role in securing funding for the inaugural Queensland Sport and Recreation program in Kuranda, as well as for the Kuranda and Tableland Justice programs.

Glenis successfully applied for funding to transition from the former Home and Community Care to the current Commonwealth Home Support Program, and gained support for initiatives like the National Empowerment Program, Ngoonbi Alcohol and Other Drugs program, NDIS funding, and Indigenous Youth Cultural Connection Program.

Her leadership extended to roles on various boards, reflecting her dedication and expertise.

In her final years, Glenis's health began to falter, but her spirit remained high.

Surrounded by loved ones, she faced each day with courage and grace, a testament to the strength of her character and the depth of her faith.

Though she may have left this world, Glenis's legacy lives on in the countless lives she touched and the enduring impact of her work.


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