Kaete Walker

Kaete Walker

* About Kaete

In 1951 my parents arrived in Australia as UK emigrants. My father then a coal mining surveyor, and my mother, formerly a nurse and dress maker. I was born, four months following their arrival.

‘A ship largely built in the UK, but launched in Australia’, one might say.

There was significant personal stress, and personal loss, to my parents, with the relocation from the UK to Australia. Promised housing, when they arrived there was none, and they, thus, for a time, resided in a local hotel. They lost previous close familial contacts, and experienced discrimination, as a result of being newcomers. In order to ‘fit in’, my father, as I understand it, even went to the length of having speech retraining, in order to rid himself of quite a heavy Lancashire accent.

My immediate close family now consists of: a) my 32 year old daughter, currently a researcher ; b) my mother, 92 years of age, and still more than quite energetic and spritely; c) my retired primary school teacher sister, three years younger than I; d) my six years younger brother, and his spouse; and, e) many nieces, and a nephew. All of whom, I feel immensely proud. Family and friends are strong interests, and very strong sources of enjoyment.

Some other, ongoing, major interests being bicycle riding, maintaining various email lists of one sort or another, listening to music, particularly classical music, doing daily meditation, poetry, having an interest in the meanings, origins and usuage of words, and an interest in sociology/social theory. Being now legally female, but, in the distant past, previously legally male, I also have some continuing interest in gender, particularly, transgender, research, and theory.

In addition to the professional experience, given below, I’ve also had the experience of being a survivor of the suicides of two my own close relatives (my brother in 1996, and my father in 1999), and, before that, two friends. This personal experience gives me somewhat a reasonably unique perspective, I expect. The suicides took much time, and pain, to recover from and, I suggest, that if one can possibly avoid the experience of suicide, yours and/or your relatives/friends, I very highly recommend that you do so.

May, 2019, marked the 68th anniversary of my birth. Additionally, the year 2019 marked the 48th anniversary of my commencement as a first year, trainee psychiatric/mental health nurse. The training, both at James Fletcher Hospital, Newcastle, and at Bloomfield Hospital, Orange, lasted a little over three years. Many changes there have been over the last forty years or so in mental health services in NSW, Australia, and most, at least it seems to me, have been largely been for the better. The inclusion of consumer and carer involvement in decision making, particularly.

My past work career, has been, variously: a) in the very beginning, for three years a trainee clerk, firstly with a local city council, and later with a local university; b) a trainee psychiatric nurse, and later, a community psychiatric/mental health nurse (several times over, in various localities); c) a hospital based psychiatric nurse in the UK; d) a trainee general nurse; e) a generalist nurse, working in emergency and acute care; f) a welfare officer, pursuant the 1958 NSW Mental Health Act; g) a co-ordinator of a small rural mental health service located in the NSW South West health region; h) a university tutor and clinical supervisor, University of Newcastle; i) a mental health clinical nurse consultant; j) a project officer (with the organisation ARAFMI) developing and overseeing a hospital based support programme (the ‘Family to Family’ project) for relatives of persons having mental illness; k) a co-ordinator, with a non govt rehabilitation service, Kaiyu Enterprises, for persons having mental illness disability; l) a part time national secretary, and executive member,  the former Bicycle Federation of Australia;  m) a transgender project worker, with the Women and Girls Emergency Centre (WAGEC See also: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/33942 and http://www.gendercentre.org.au/68article1.htm) in inner Sydney, NSW; and, n) for several years, a TAFE part time teacher (eg, in the course, Cert IV Mental Health Non Clinical.)

Over the last several most recent years I’ve worked for a regional NSW area health service as a community based nurse clinician, providing counselling, psychotherapy, and case management. Mid 2012, I was promoted to the position ‘Clinical Nurse Specialist’ (the promotion, largely as a result of I being deemed a specialist resource person, amongst other things, matters pertaining transgender).

Away from my paid work, in my spare time I’m currently a former past executive member of the Australian and New Zealand Professional Association of Transgender Health (ANZPATH), also seconded to its education sub-committee), and the former chairperson/president of the Hunter Centre for Sex and Gender Diversity (HCSGD). The latter group, 2015 formed, attempting to seek improved services for transgender and gender diverse persons residing in the Hunter area of NSW, Australia.

Formal undergraduate and post graduate studies, past, have been in the fields of nursing, social welfare, education and training, social policy, and theology. What has been of very most beneficially taught me, I believe, in all of the above, however, has been that of the importance of critical thinking: the importance of questioning that which is perceived the immediately obvious; and too, the importance of examining the influence of hegemonic social, and political, ideologies in shaping, and perhaps, oft times limiting, worldview practice.

Many studies, undergraduate and post graduate, over the years, I’ve undertaken.

In the words of the poet, TS Eliot, “Old men ought to be explorers…”.

Similarly so, I think, for us old (trans) women.

T.S. Eliot’s poem, ‘EAST COKER’

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning..


Written by Kaete

July 14, 2010 at 19:26

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