Theresa was born on Woorabinda Aboriginal Mission and is an elder of the Pitta Pitta Pitta and Kalkadoon nations of North West Queensland. She is a performance poet and draws on her long history as a dancer, actor and singer. Her poems tell of her family’s experience of colonisation and yearns for a more powerful future for Aboriginal people.
Theresa was born into the Kalkadoon and Pitta Pitta nations of North West Queensland. Her grandparents and great grandparents were removed from their traditional estate into Aboriginal reserves in the Boulia and Cloncurry areas after the Battle of Battle Mountain in 1884 which ended the period of Kalkadoon armed resistance to British invasion in the area.
Theresa’s parents and grandparents were moved from the reserves in North West Queensland to Palm Island mission and then to Woorabinda mission where Theresa spent her first years before moving to Townsville with her family.
In 1978 Theresa left Townsville to study dance in Sydney at the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Academy (NAISDA). Between 1979 and 1981 she performed with the Aboriginal and Islander Dance Theatre (AIDT), from which today’s Bangarra Dance Theatre grew. In 1981 Theresa was in the first group of contemporary Aboriginal dancers to perform overseas when AIDT toured the U.S. and Canada.
In 1992 Theresa played the lead role, alongside Jack Charles, in the Black Swan Theatre Company’s Melbourne production of Sally Morgan’s play “Sister Girl”
In 1993 Theresa returned to North Queensland and choreographed dance for community theatre productions and was involved with 4K1G radio in Townsville and 4TT and Bama Bipera radio in Cairns.
Theresa moved to Brisbane and In 2000 recorded a CD of her own songs entitled “Unfinished Business” (which is soon to be re-released online). Around this time Theresa was regularly performing as a support act to Bart Willoughby when he was living in Brisbane, it is his band that performs on the CD.
In recent years Theresa has been writing and performing poetry at the Kurilpa Poets in West End Brisbane, which has a tradition of performance poetry. Spring-boarding from the Kurilpa Poets, Theresa has performed at the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2018 Theresa had a poem displayed in the Queensland Art Gallery as part of its Australian Collection Poetry Walking Tour. Theresa has also been performing her poetry at schools and libraries.
In 2018 Theresa produced an audio audio album of poems, “Aboriginal Woman”, accompanied by Matthew Barnes on Guitar. The poems on the album tell her family’s story, from the past and into the future, from the great grandparents to the great grandchildren.
In between all this, Theresa has been a mother to her son Marley, who is the executive producer of the Aboriginal Woman album.