For over 30 years Geraldine has been a significant presence in the Koorie and wider Victorian community, beginning as an Aboriginal teacher aide in 1976 to her current role as President of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association.
Through her work for VAEAI Geraldine has gained broad experience within Koorie Education. In the 1970s Geraldine served as the VAEAI Adult Education and TAFE Specialist representative. Geraldine played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Minimbah Adult Education Program, which provided Koorie people with an opportunity to take a new direction through training.
Geraldine has also made a significant impact in the area of Early Childhood. The Lidje MACS child care centre near Shepparton was established in 1986 through a collaborative effort amongst which Geraldine was a leader. The centre was established out the recognition that many Koorie children were disadvantaged as a result of their lack of attendance in early years programs.
As a recognised leader in Koorie education, Geraldine became President of VAEAI in 1999, and has been re-elected every year since. As President Geraldine has been able to contribute her expertise to key policies and strategies that have shaped Koorie education and have yielded significant improvement in outcomes.
In October 2001, former Premier Steve Bracks, with Geraldine Atkinson, launched the renewed partnership in education and training, Yalca. Yalca, meaning Yellow Box gum in the Yorta Yorta language, supports a birth-to-death philosophy of education, placing the Koorie student at the centre of education policy and decision making, and acknowledges that local Koorie communities are best able to determine local education and training needs.
Geraldine also represents VAEAI on a number of national and state committees while maintaining her involvement at the regional and local level. Geraldine represents all Indigenous Education Consultative Bodies (IECBs) in Australian States and Territories on the Ministerial Taskforce for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEEDYA).