A proud Kaurna woman, DDR’s highly valued receptionist Joeleen Arnold grew up in Gawler, South Australia. Since then, she’s packed a lot into her life, following her heart and enjoying the ride.
Joeleen Arnold spent her early childhood with her grandmother on Kaurna Country, near Adelaide. At the age of seven, she moved with her parents and sister to Perth, which was a big change and took some getting used to.
When she was 16, Joeleen “took off”, moved up north and fell in love with a Njamal man (Njamal Country covers an area inland from Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of Western Australia). The pair married and moved to Walagunya Station, roughly 165 kilometres east of Newman, just north of Jigalong.
Joeleen and her husband took to station life straight away. As they didn’t have a homestead, they lived out of swags, and bought, bred and traded cattle.
The couple’s three children (two girls, now aged 18 and 13, and a boy, 12) were born on the station and, as Joeleen says, “took their first steps – without shoes – in red dirt.” Joeleen had wild brumbies as pets and raised kangaroos from pink (‘pinkies’ are joeys that have not yet grown fur).
Although Martu land is not Joeleen’s own, she felt very close to Country while living on the station.
“It’s hard to put into words – it gives me goosebumps, actually,” she said.
“I felt at one with nature, everything seemed to be easy… it’s the kind of peace that overwhelms you.”
While at Walagunya, Joeleen also worked for an earthmoving company, which she helped develop and manage. She learnt how to drive a truck, grader, loader, water cart and end tipper. She also worked for the government’s Best Start program, which helped Indigenous children transition to school.
Eventually Joeleen and her husband made the decision to return to Perth so the kids could access high-quality education. Joeleen worked in a range of jobs, mostly office-based, and started with DDR in May last year. The fact that DDR was a majority Aboriginal-owned company was particularly appealing.
Although she finds it hard to put into words, Joeleen feels a calling to help advance and protect the rights of Indigenous peoples. And she believes this will only happen through awareness and education. “The smallest things can have a ripple effect,” she said.
DDR is fortunate to have Joeleen on board!