Tidda Tradies: Compassion, culture and connection helping Indigenous women in Orange

Published: Nov 29, 2022

For the past six months, a group of mothers from three Orange-based schools have met fortnightly at the local Women’s Shed to tinker with tools, learn new skills and connect with community and culture.

The group is known as the ‘Tidda Tradies’ (Tidda meaning 'sister' in the Wiradjuri language), and it was created by proud Wiradjuri woman, Mary Croaker, and Rachel Livingstone from Glenroi Heights Public School, as part of VERTO’s Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program.

Delivered in conjunction with Orange Women's Shed, the Tidda Tradies invites students’ mothers and carers to participate in a range of workshops on home maintenance, learning practical skills such as hanging a picture, painting a wall or fixing a door.

Mrs Croaker says that in six short months, the women enrolled in the Tidda Tradies program have been a wonderful support to each other and are achieving great outcomes.

“Five women are now studying a Certificate in Construction at TAFE to further their skills and potentially gain a trade, which is life-changing,” Mrs Croaker said.

“But beyond the practical skills the women are learning, Tidda Tradies provides a safe space for the women to talk openly about everything, with the aim of building self-esteem and community connection.”

Ms Croaker says many mothers in the group had been left feeling isolated after two years of living with COVID restrictions, but the creation of the Tidda Tradies has enabled the women to form strong bonds and friendships.

“We work together, sharing inspiration and knowledge, and we really focus on empowering each other as women and as mothers,” she said.

“It’s actually a really special moment for these mothers to role-model to their children what it looks like to learn new skills and work as a team. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.”

Recently, the Tidda Tradies completed a timber park bench for Canobolas Rural Technology High School, so the teachers have space to enjoy a quiet cup of tea away from the hustle and bustle of the noisy playground.

Mrs Croaker said the park bench was an excellent project for the women to work on and the Tidda Tradies were very proud to present it to the school community recently.

VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell said it was wonderful to see how much Mary and the women had achieved in such a short space of time.

“I know I speak for the entire VERTO team when I say how proud we are of Mary and her work in this space,” he said.

“Tidda Tradies is a wonderful addition to the Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program that will help achieve long-term sustainable outcomes while allowing local Indigenous women to connect and learn new skills.”

Tidda Tradies meets fortnightly on Thursday mornings during school terms at the current Women’s Shed space at the rear of Wangarang. For more information or to join the group, please contact Mary Croaker on 0447 523 331.