Uncle Greg is an Aboriginal Elder in Western Sydney of the Gundungurra (Water Dragon Lizard People) of the Blue Mountains and the Gadigal Tribe (Whale People) of the Dharug Nation.
His mother is Budawang of Yuin Nation (Black Duck) from near Batemans Bay and Ulladulla, and Grandmother Louise Kate Campbell was born in Broulee. His Great Grandfather, Thomas Francis Butler came from Maine, America to Australia in 1818, he was Afro-American, and a missionary. Uncle Greg’s Great Grandmother, Jane Brown was a Budawang woman from Braidwood, a sacred place for women to have babies.
Uncle Greg was born in 1949 and grew up in La Perouse on an Aboriginal Reserve where the Elders gave him his education and values for life. He had a good life at school and in his community, where eel and mullet were good tucker to share with black and white fellas.
Looking after Country is an important part of his current work, as well as teaching, mentoring and sharing culture with white and black alike. He is also an Elder at the University of Western Sydney campus to support Aboriginal students and lecturers in culture.
He is an ambassador for respect and an activist for reconciliation. He was taught woodcarving by the Elders, and is now a storyteller and cultural educator. He loves working with children and has two kids, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Uncle Greg still enjoys woodcarving, and donates artworks to charities, and gets the young people involved to help.
In recent times, he had a hip replacement and then became unwell with lung and kidney problems and spent many months in hospital.
He had visits from Aboriginal health workers, “Black Angels” who gave him energy to work hard.
He also had lots of help from nurses and physios with different things to do. After his hip replacement, the physios helped him to walk with the frame, then with walking sticks, and then he could walk by himself, going a bit further each time. He pushed himself to get where he wanted to be.
What Uncle Greg learned in rehab
- It’s good to have male and female staff to work alongside you, and good to have an Aboriginal liaison officer to help.
- You get well looked after by good staff who are considerate about how you feel.
- Progress happens “slow and steady”, and it’s good to do the exercises.
- There’s a big family atmosphere and everyone is working together.
- There’s a good variety of things to do (e.g. exercise, stairs, walker, walking stick).
- The food is good.
Top tips for clinicians
- Listen hard.
- Respect the stories.
- Culture is to share with everyone.
- We are all one mob.