There is nothing quite like a mother’s pride in seeing her high-flying daughter honoured on one of the nation’s biggest stages. And the fact Mavis Westerman’s eagerness to celebrate her childrens’ achievements comes amid a backdrop of self-doubt and pain makes it all the more heartwarming. When Pilbara local and Nyamal woman Dr Tracy Westerman in June was awarded an Order of Australia medal her mother, Mrs Westerman, could not contain her excitement. Mrs Westerman said her daughter had always dreamed of helping people and had long held a fascination in psychology. “She always wanted to help people, always cared a lot about others and wanted to build something for other people,” she said. “One day she told me she wanted to be a psychologist, I nearly had a heart attack when she first told me.” Dr Westerman was awarded an Order of Australia honour for her contribution towards psychology, specifically her work surrounding Indigenous culturally appropriate treatment. Prior to that the Nyamal leader was recognised as the 2018 Australian of the Year, among a host of other accolades. “I wish her dad was alive to see this, I’m very proud of my girl from a little town like Tom Price,” Mrs Westerman said. Dr Westerman said her mother’s life story was an example of how society mistreated Indigenous people in previous generations. In 2017 she uploaded a certificate her mother received in 1964 which outlined the behavioural requirements Aboriginal people at the time were legally expected to adhere to. “My mother, Mavis Westerman, was granted this certificate by attending Port Hedland court in 1964,” Dr Westerman said. “It was a requirement of Aboriginal people under the Western Australian Natives (Citizenship Rights) Act of 1944. “To be eligible you had to prove you had severed ties with Aboriginal family, were free of disease, could speak English and were ‘civilized’ in your behaviour. “The government actively sought to assimilate Aboriginal people into white culture.” For Mrs Westerman, the pride in her daughter is a long way removed from the shame she said she felt of that 1964 certificate, which she hid from her family for years. “I never showed my certificate for 30 years, we had it hidden, it was so embarrassing,” she said. “It was an awful time how we were treated “I still try to keep the young Indigenous kids on their toes when I see them getting up to mischief — it’s not really my job but it’s just the way I was raised.” The importance of education was always emphasised by the Westerman family; the other siblings thriving in successful careers as a teacher and with Rio Tinto. “I worked for 35 years at a school as a cleaner and I always reminded them to never miss out on an education,” Mrs Westerman said. “I had five kids and three have got university degrees, whereas my husband and I didn’t pass anything in school.” Mrs Westerman said more funding was needed from government towards her daughter’s research, rather than relying solely on donations.