Born in Mount Isa as the youngest of 12, Waanyi/Kalkadoon woman Sandra Creamer was one of only two Indigenous children to attend her boarding school, but at the age of 14 was asked to leave for no apparent reason.
At 21 she became a mother, and at 33 left a violent domestic relationship.
At 38, Sandra began working with various global forums, including the United Nations, travelling the world advocating for Indigenous women’s rights and becoming the CEO of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance (NATSIWA).
To say Sandra is inspiring is quite the understatement.
Now, at 59, she’s become a lawyer…her admission this week moved by her proud son, esteemed Brisbane barrister Joshua Creamer, who has made the Queensland history books as the first First Nations barrister to move their mother’s admission.
“She is an incredibly generous, selfless person and she’s never waited for things to come to her, she’s always chased her dreams and believed in herself and our family,” Joshua said.
How did she celebrate her admission into the profession? With a ham and pineapple pizza, of course!
“I don’t get to have it very often, so I said to Josh, let’s all go out as a family and have some pizza to celebrate together,” Sandra said.
With four children and 13 (soon to be 14) grandkids, she says her family is her proudest achievement yet.
“Their childhood wasn’t always smooth, but I am so proud of every single one of my children and I wouldn’t be who I am without them. They have been my biggest support system.”
Her journey to admission has been rough, and although she had many moments of self-doubt, she has always dusted herself off and remained determined to achieve her goals.
“I was studying externally as a single mother with four children trying to hold a part-time job,” she said. “And it’s definitely not easy to study on the internet when you don’t have the internet!”
Sandra was drawn to a career in law because she wanted to do something where she could give back and inspire others.
“I always wanted to do something with human rights. After my own experiences with divorce and family violence, I’ve had moments where I felt like my own voice wasn’t being heard.
“I want to be that voice for others to support and understand their journey too.”
Describing his mother as strong, resilient and determined, Joshua said many people underestimated how much she had had to overcome while remaining a beacon of hope for those around her.
“She is the most humble person I know,” he said. “If you walked past her on the street, you would never know that for the last 15 years she has been one of the leading figures in the international Indigenous rights forums.”
About to embark on her new legal career, Sandra says the most important thing for her is to continue empowering, supporting and educating women through her work.
“I just want women to know that you CAN do anything, but you need to believe in yourself,” she said. “Life can be a hard journey, but things come to us through lessons and don’t let your spirit be broken.
“You can do it.”