Veronica Saunders

Cancer information for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People

 

Veronica Saunders

Veronica Margaret Saunders is a key member of the Advisory Group for Cancer Council NSW’s Aboriginal Patterns of Care for Cancer research project, helping to ensure that the project’s dissemination material is culturally appropriate and relevant. She was initially employed as the Community Liaison Officer for the project. Veronica is of Biripi country Taree NSW and was born 7th July 1959. Oldest of seven siblings, three sisters and three brothers. Her parents are of Aboriginal descent, her father is a respected elder of the Biripi people and her mother was a great matriarch and a member of the stolen generation. She has a huge amount of experience in cancer care, both professional and personal. “Nearly every Aboriginal person I speak to knows someone that’s got cancer or died from cancer.” “I’ve had two aunts on dad’s side and three on mum’s side die of cancer. There’s always been cancer there, but you never think about it. My dad has cancer and he’s in denial – I was there when he was told and he just said to the doctor, ‘I haven’t got that dirty disease that killed my sisters’. But he does.” Veronica and her family grew up on Purfleet reserve 3km out of Taree and she left home at age 16 to work in Sydney. Veronica started her own family in 1977 and has four children. In 1982 she did Enrolled Nurses training at Manning Base Hospital and worked there till 1985. She then worked for 15 years as an Aboriginal Education Assistant at Taree High and Mackellar Girls High in Sydney. Veronica also did a community radio program for five years with an Aboriginal component as well as an Aboriginal Kids school’s out program. Whilst living in Taree she was on the Board at Manning Base Hospital for about two years. She played leading roles in the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and reconciliation working closely with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. “People have no idea what a lot of Aboriginal people have to deal with in their own country. I really believe we need more black faces in the cancer arena and more culturally appropriate ways to access the services. I’m so happy that Cancer Council is doing this research and that we’re finally getting somewhere. There’s a long way to go, but at least something’s happening for our people.”  

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