Djabugay descendant Shirley Hollingsworth is Tjapukai’s new general manager
Hollingsworth is first Djabugay person to be appointed to the Tropical North Queensland cultural park’s most senior role.
“Shirley joined Tjapukai as a casual junior retail assistant in 1997 and over the past two decades has worked in all aspects of the business,” said Tjapukai board chair Michael Nemarich.
“Both her desire to upskill through training and her leadership qualities led to Shirley taking on several management roles before being appointed general manager.
“Djabugay people have been the backbone of the Tjapukai business since it was launched in 1987 as a vehicle to share their culture and create employment for their people. Currently 70 per cent of our 63 staff are Indigenous people and half of those identify as Djabugay.”
Hollingsworth said the motivation in her work comes from the Djabugay elders who helped create Tjapukai and her family within the broader community.
“It was their resilience, vision, wisdom, knowledge, honesty, integrity and guidance that encouraged me by saying it’s okay to be Aboriginal and to be proud of who we are as a people,” she said.
“Djabugay people have been the backbone of this business and it has helped preserve their connection to country, identity, language and culture in an evolving world. Working at Tjapukai gives you the opportunity to be proud of who you are. I feel I have a responsibility to ensure we maintain this so Tjapukai is still around for future generations and continuing what our elders started.”