GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
COMMEMORATING THE LIVES AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER ELDERS, LEADERS AND PATHMAKERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN SYDNEY
© 2014 Elders on Campus, Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement University of Western Sydney. This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be produced by any process without written permission from the Elders on Campus, Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement University of Western Sydney. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction should be addressed to Elders on Campus, Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement University of Western Sydney Locked Bag 1797 Penrith NSW 2751. This publication is available online at www.uws.edu.au/oatsiee Every reasonable effort has been made to contact copyright owners of materials reproduced in this publication. UWS welcomes communication from any copyright owner from whom permission was inadvertently not obtained. National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication data: Generations of Knowledge: Commemorating the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, Leaders and Pathmakers at the University of Western Sydney. Published by the University of Western Sydney. ISBN: 978-1-74108-341-5
PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER’S NOTE: Melissa Williams
The stories in this book have been created from transcripts of discussions held with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people associated with the University of Western Sydney – Elders, Staff Members, Alumni, Leaders and Pioneers who have helped to shape UWS. I hope that this publication will recognise and honour their contributions. These stories are written in their own words and reflect the journey that has been travelled by these pathfinders between the two worlds of traditional culture and protocol and the mainstream.
“I had the honour of sitting with the Council of Elders; all of them are wise’ talking with them was a sheer delight, because as well as being a gentle people they are also a kind and considerate people. I believe that if Aboriginal culture is abandoned by Aboriginal people, not only would we be the losers, but the whole Australian nation would be the losers…The problems confronting Aborigines vary from district to district and State to State. Unity therefore becomes the key and “Our voice shall be one voice” our motto.” – Reg Saunders MBE, first commissioned Aboriginal officer in the Australian Army
To those who have contributed my sincere and heartfelt thanks for your generosity, courage and openness in enabling me to walk with you on this journey.
The audio of these transcripts can also be listened to at www.uws.edu.au/oatsiee if you would like to hear these stories from the source. I hope that in committing these stories to print I have managed to commemorate the voices of these inspiring journeys for generations to come. Photo courtesy of Daryl Charles Photography
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE COMMEMORATING THE LIVES AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER ELDERS, LEADERS AND PATHMAKERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN SYDNEY
CONTENTS 4 FOREWORD BY PROFESSOR PETER SHERGOLD, CHANCELLOR: Walking Together with our First Peoples 5
OREWORD BY VICE-CHANCELLOR F BARNEY GLOVER : A University of the People that Brings Generations of Knowledge to Life OREWORD BY ELDERS ON CAMPUS: F Walking with our Elders on Campus
BIOGRAPHIES AND PORTRAITS
30 Aunty Thelma Quartey
34 Uncle Rex Sorby
10 Aunty Sandra Lee
38 Aunty Mae Robinson
14 Uncle Harry Allie
42 Aunty Edna Watson
18 Aunty Fran Bodkin
46 Uncle Greg Simms
22 Uncle Norman Newlin
50 Uncle Ivan Wellington
25 Aunty Noeline Briggs-Smith
54 Aunty Zona Wilkinson
26 Uncle Wes Marne
56 Aunty Matilda House
58 Aunty Rasme Prior
69 LEADERS AND PATHMAKERS
88 Lynda Holden
59 Aunty Norma Shelley
70 Aunty Pearl Wymarra
91 Dr Gawain Bodkin-Andrews
60 Dr Margaret Weir
74 Shirley Gilbert
94 Tarren Leon
63 Uncle Steve Williams
77 Christine Carriage
96 THE FUTURE IS UPON US
64 Aunty Dhanggal Gurruwiwi, Aunty Milminyina Dhamarrandji and Aunty Djarpirri Mununggurritj
80 Paul Newman
98 A NOTE ON THE SOURCES
83 Dr Dana Slape
86 Dr Ryan Dashwood
66 Uncle Darryl Wright
FOREWORD BY PROFESSOR PETER SHERGOLD, CHANCELLOR:
WALKING TOGETHER WITH OUR FIRST PEOPLES
he people of the University of Western Sydney have come from many different ethnic backgrounds and cultures, all over the world. Rightfully all take pride in their distinctive heritage. Yet within our diverse, multicultural society, there is one group that is truly unique. Their culture is the oldest in existence and their social groups number in the hundreds. We gratefully stand on their lands. They are this continent’s First Peoples, this continent’s Traditional Owners. They possess this continent’s ancient knowledge. Our history is a barely measurable portion of theirs. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a proud past and we are fortunate to be able to say we are now part of their future. We cannot say that we truly know ourselves unless we have come to know them. That is why we are indebted to them for what we have learned. There are many wonderfully talented, generously wise and compassionate Aboriginal men and women who have given of their culture, knowledge, stories and skills for our collective benefit. We recognise and honour their contribution to the development of our University and of Greater Western Sydney. Foremost among these are our Elders on Campus. They are the personable, smiling exemplars of their peoples’ legacy to all of us. They have taken the lead in the creation of this significant milestone in our short history. The personal stories shared here trace very different arcs of experience, across generations of life seen through Aboriginal eyes and felt in Aboriginal hearts. What they have endured, what they have achieved, has helped us all be better than we were. We have grown up as a nation during their lifetimes. That is the collective benefit of sharing Generations of Knowledge. The University has travelled a long way to become what it is today. These men and women have generously given us the opportunity to walk some of that journey together.
FOREWORD BY PROFESSOR BARNEY GLOVER, VICE-CHANCELLOR AND PRESIDENT UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN SYDNEY:
A UNIVERSITY OF THE PEOPLE THAT BRINGS GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE TO LIFE
ince its inception in 1989, the University of Western Sydney has an enduring commitment to meet the needs and aspirations of the residents of Greater Western Sydney. The desire to engage and collaborate with our communities is embedded within the culture of the University. This significant feature rightly distinguishes UWS as a ‘University of the People’. I had the great privilege of working in the Northern Territory for a number of years before I came to the University of Western Sydney. It is only when you find yourself in Maningrida, Galiwinku, Ali Curung, or Hermannsburg, or in very remote parts of the Northern Territory talking with Elders and with community leaders, that you get a real sense of the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. This is the oldest surviving culture in the world and has a lot to offer: whether it is related to the way in which people communicate; deal with difficulties; attempt to mediate problems, through to the way we look at and solve scientific conundrums that face us today. We can all benefit from the richness and insights offered by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Generations of Knowledge places the development and advancement of UWS’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, employment and engagement strategies and achievements within the broader context of the University’s development. I believe that it ably demonstrates the importance of the University as a true ‘First Peoples space’ – a space that I am proud to commend to the University’s regional and sectoral constituencies. Most importantly,
the book captures how the irreplaceable contributions of Elders on Campus, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities – preceded the formal existence of UWS as an institution and helped forge an agenda that will ultimately contribute to closing the gap. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and employment advancement remains an area in which the University distinguishes itself to the world. Like my predecessors, I have direct and personal interest and a responsibility to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ participation rates in education, employment and engagement. It is my deep commitment to deliver better opportunities for Australia’s largest urban population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and support great endeavours such as the Generations of Knowledge project. For the first time – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have documented their journeys and their contribution to the development of UWS which is of great credit to these people who were brave enough to share their stories. This is just the first stage of capturing and preserving stories that could otherwise be lost forever under the Generations of Knowledge project. Due to its accessible, vibrant style, I know that this book will find an audience both within the University and in the broader community. I hope it will be the genesis of new digital and in-real-life conversations, that yields new lines of enquiry. Most importantly, I hope this book will contribute to overcoming systemic disadvantage and achieving true equality and reconciliation between all Australians.
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ELDERS ON CAMPUS FOREWORD:
WALKING WITH OUR ELDERS ON CAMPUS Elders on Campus wish to thank the Research Team for their support and assistance in capturing this important body of evidence. It is our hope that it will add to the knowledge about the unbroken connection of the Darug, Tharawal, Gundungarra and Wiradjuri peoples to their lands which UWS campuses span. Furthermore, we wish to thank all the other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have chosen to live and work in Greater Western Sydney for their contributions to the area and to the University in particular. We would like to give a special mention to certain individuals for their collaboration on this project. We wish to thank Chancellor Professor Peter Shergold, Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Hawkins and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) Angelo Kourtis for their steadfast commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. Without this crucial support, Elders on Campus and our contributions to UWS in Greater Western Sydney would not have been able to commemorate our voices in text. Melissa Williams, Principal Researcher for her unfailing commitment to commemorating Eldersâ€™ and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in text. Given that research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has long been vexed with issues of knowledge appropriation and establishing standards of legitimacy, in particular, it is to Melissaâ€™s credit that she has been open to defining the research process with the collaboration of Elders on Campus and has worked in a way which satisfied the need to respect cultural protocols whilst accomplishing the task of bringing such a large project together. Professor Kevin Dunn, Dean, School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Professor Simeon Simoff, Dean, Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, Dr Mark Hutchinson, Dr Terry Sloan, Alex Dobrochodow and Dr Tomas Trescak have delivered us gracious support. Professor Kevin Dunn, Dean, School of Social Sciences and Psychology for his sponsorship, ensuring we have a First Peoples perspective. Professor Simeon Simoff, Dean, Computing, Engineering and Mathematics and Dr Tomas Trescak, for helping us bring the Aboriginal knowledge and experience into reality with the co-creation of our Virtual World. Associate Professor Terry Sloan, School of Business who gave his time and guided the compliance with the National Ethics Application Form. We acknowledge that we owe him a debt in terms of the way we have needed to question elements of the Western scientific method which has not always been an easy thing to raise, nor respond to. Dr Mark Hutchinson, Associate Researcher for providing a sound interview framework from which to start and which, two iterations later, truly captured the historical breadth of detail held by Elders on Campus in living memory, first recorded orally and which has now been transformed into text with the support of the entire team. Lorraine Efeturk, Associate Director, Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education has supported the project in numerous ways including promoting the project amongst UWS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students. The OATSIEE Team past and present - Angela Spithill, Darren Allie, Debbie Cummings, Fiona Towney, Jennifer Flood, Josh Mason, Jeannie Townsend and Terri Keating - making our everyday commitments on this project run as smooth as possible.
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Left to right, (back row): Dr Sev Ozdowski, Paul Newman, Associate Professor Berice Anning, Phil Bradley, ( front row) Aunty Mae Robinson, Melissa Williams, Aunty Sandra and Thullii Dreaming Performers celebrating National Reconciliation Week.
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
BIOGRAPHIES & PORTRAITS Portraits of Elders
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
SANDRA LEE I’ve been an Elder on Campus at UWS for the past six years. We meet regularly and talk to our Aboriginal staff whenever they need our help. I also do a lot of Welcomes to Country. I regularly go out to primary schools and do talks on Aboriginal culture in our area. There’s a growing interest in our culture, with kids doing traditional dance and painting. I go out to different communities, Aboriginal Centres and prisons, where I talk to the inmates about their heritage and culture, listening to them and helping them to learn something that they didn’t know.
’m a direct descendant of Gomebeeree, who was leader of the Boorooberongal clan of the Darug Nation. Now that is on my mother’s side. My father’s not Aboriginal. I am the eldest of eight and we grew up surrounded by a lot of extended Aboriginal family – cousins, uncles and aunties. Mum also had quite a big family and we all intermingled, all my grown up life. I grew up and went to school in Blacktown. I had a great time in primary school, which was full of kids from all sorts of backgrounds. I don’t know if there were any other Aboriginal kids there because it was kept pretty quiet about being Aboriginal in those days. People didn’t speak about being Aboriginal because they were scared of the Protection Board coming in and taking children. It was all part of the Stolen Generation and that’s what happened to them. They did it to a lot of families, took the kids and put them into institutes and missionary schools. I’m not dark skinned, I’m white, so I kept quiet. That’s the way it was back in the Fifties and Sixties. I went to school until around Year 11 and in the last days I told the headmistress I wanted to go to work to help Mum and Dad out with raising the family. My first job was in a dry-cleaner’s in Blacktown and over the years I had various other jobs. While raising my own family, I worked nights in a cotton factory in Pennant Hills. I got involved in Aboriginal community work about ten years ago, when I got appointed to the Darug Tribal Aboriginal Council (DTAC) committee. They originally existed as a means of organising family and member reunions, but we expanded on that and began going into schools talking about Darug heritage and culture. I was also doing Welcome to Country and keynote addresses. We were bringing families together, planning Christmas parties for the community and looking after Aboriginal people in Blacktown. My husband, who isn’t Aboriginal, also does a lot of work for the Darug
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people, organising things, talking to people. He got involved when I started at DTAC and everybody thinks he’s Aboriginal, but he says to them, ‘I’m not Aboriginal, I’m a Gubba’. In the early eighties my mother decided she’d had enough of denying her Aboriginality and decided to stand up, to identify. When she did it, we did it. You know, I always thought that I’m missing something, all my Aboriginality and my feeling for the land and my history and culture. Now I’ve embraced it I’m a stronger, happier person. My mother was Aunty Mavis Halverson. As an Elder she had cultural authority to represent her people at school openings, talk about the culture, and things like that. When she passed away a few years ago it became my turn to step up. When my community nominated me and the people all agreed, that’s when I accepted it. From then on I’ve been doing Welcome to Country addresses and joined the Elders on Campus at UWS, following on from Mum. Since taking over I have incorporated Darug language, heritage and culture which I speak in my Welcome to Country addresses. It began when we got a phone call from the Endangered Languages in England who asked if we’d like the publishing rights to some notebooks on our language, which happened to be in Australia. They were written by a man who had arrived on the First Fleet. He lived with an Aboriginal girl and when they used to go out he’d ask her what different things were and she’d tell him, and he wrote them down in both Aboriginal and English. Those books have been sitting in the Sydney Museum for years. It took me weeks to learn my little bit that I say; my grandson taught me, he’s good at it. I now know about five people who speak it, which is more than my mother ever knew. At the Burbaga Aboriginal Corporation we’re now in the early stages of putting together classes for people learning to speak it. We founded the Burbaga Aboriginal Corporation in 2013 to help the Darug people and other Aboriginal communities in our region. We
work with Aboriginal people that don’t know their family history, and to welcome other Aboriginal people, who don’t know where they come from, into the organisation. It’s not run just by Darug people; we’ve got other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people on the committee, too – people who know how to run a business and all the skills needed to run it. I’m the figurehead but they’re running it. I’m starting to get a bit old. We’ve just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Swedish company Holcim, which took over Readymix. It has to do with a piece of land near their operations at Rooty Hill. It’s about twenty-eight acres, and they’re going to build a nursery and offices on it, and it’s worth about $2.5 million to us. I feel really proud because they specifically asked to sign the MOU with me.
The main photo is my primary school class at Blacktown North, where I grew up. The small photo is of me taken at my sister’s wedding. The you ng couple are me a nd my husba nd Terry, at our wedding in 1971. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Aunty Sandra Lee and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Aunty Sandra Lee and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
I’ve also been an Elder on Campus at UWS for the past eight or nine years. We meet regularly and talk to our Aboriginal students whenever they need our help. I also do a lot of Welcome to Country addresses for the University. I regularly go out to primary schools and do talks on Aboriginal culture in our area. There’s a growing interest in our culture, with kids doing traditional dance, painting up their rooms and playgrounds in Aboriginal themes. I go out to different communities, Aboriginal Centres and prisons, where I talk to the inmates about their heritage and culture, teaching them something about themselves that they didn’t know. A lot of Aboriginal people are lost and need to find a way back, and prison’s not the place to do that. I tell them about their own history, that goes back well before Captain Cook ever arrived – the first boat people. My people greeted them and the next thing you know they’ve taken our land, where we got our food. And when we needed food and killed a sheep they hung us for it. Along Richmond Road, to Blacktown, they used to hang Aboriginals for a lesson to other Aboriginals. A lot of people don’t know about that. When they held an anniversary for Governor Macquarie a few years ago they asked me to come and celebrate and I said, ‘He put the order out to hang my people. Why would I want to say nice things about the man?’ That’s part of the history of our land. As an Elder it’s my responsibility to hold onto the truth and pass it on.
Aunty Betty Flynn and Aunty Sandra Lee, Yarramundi Lecture 2013
The biggest influence in my life has been Aboriginal people. The more I learn about them the better I get, and the stronger I feel as an Aboriginal. That’s why I like to speak to the young generation and try and bring them back to the people, bring them back to the culture and the heritage. If you talk about the Aboriginal culture to the wider community, and they learn a bit, they’ll have more respect for the Aboriginal people than they have now. It brings us closer together.
Aunty Sandra Lee, Melissa Williams and Aunty Milminyina Dhamarrandji
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Professor David Ellsworth, Aunty Sandra Lee and Professor Gregory Kolt
HARRY ALLIE I’ve been associated with UWS for nearly five years. I was invited onto the Advisory Board and it was an honour to be asked, particularly by such an establishment as UWS. With my experience, I think I can help in some way to contribute and make UWS a place of first choice for Aboriginal people. The people on the Board are very varied and enlightened, with a high degree of experience in the bigger world of Aboriginal culture. We can learn off each other. If we continue in that vein, then we’ll have a number one university, not only in Australia but at world level.
y mob, we call ourselves Kudjula. It covers the area around Charters Towers in north Queensland, about 120kms west of Townsville, going toward Mt Isa. The Kudjula side is from my mother’s side, but unfortunately we’re having trouble tracing my father’s side accurately. The oral story of his mother says that she came down to Charters Towers from Canobie Station, just outside Normanton in northern Queensland. I spent my early life growing up in Charters Towers with my mother, while my father was away working on the stations. In those days, they only came into town twice a year, which was four weeks at Christmas time, and two weeks at the end of June for the local show, then they’d go back out onto the station. Because my father was away working on stations a lot, my mother said that her children would not work on cattle stations, so we then had to persevere and try to get a job in the town, which wasn’t easy because of discrimination, and the education we never had. I left high school at fourteen and I was fortunate an ex Air Force man employed me as a pastry cook hand. I then sat for the Post Office exam and they offered me a job as a telegram boy. Working in the local post office I found that I wanted to be something else and so I changed over to a linesman. They were upgrading the telephone lines between Townsville and Darwin and I worked out in the middle of nowhere between Townsville and Mount Isa. It was too hot for the lizards – they used to run into the cracks in the ground. After three years doing that I wanted to do something better with my life. I wanted to join the Royal Australian Air Force. Charters Towers was a very big servicemen’s area. My own two uncles served in World War 1 and World War 2, my aunty served with the women’s land army and my father served in the Civil Construction Corps, so we were always familiar with the military. When I used go to my grandmother’s house there’d be photographs of my two uncles and aunty, so I figured the Air Force was where I
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wanted to move on to when the time came. I came into Townsville on holidays and I went into recruiting in late 1965, did the tests and they enlisted me on 5 January 1966. You had to do ten weeks recruit training, then you were mustered into the trade that they selected for you, and you did your trade training in Wagga for approximately two months. I was posted to an Air Force Base in East Sale, Victoria, which is down near Wilsons Promontory. It was beautiful but cold. There weren’t enough blankets to keep me warm, because the wind was blowing off the mountains. So that’s how I started my Air Force career. I didn’t have the education to be a pilot; I just wanted to be successful in a trade. I was selected to work in equipment logistics and from day one I decided I would be a good serviceman. I went through all the ranks and became a warrant officer, the highest non-commissioned rank. I stayed for over twenty-three years. Homesickness was a very big thing because in those days you depended upon letters. My mother couldn’t read or write, so she had to get my cousin to write a letter from her to me and there was nothing more disappointing on mail parade than to line up and there was no letter for Harry Allie. When you did get your letter it was a great joy to sit down and read it; you’d read it five or six times then you’d read it backward sometimes just because you were missing home. With homesickness and things like that, love cures all. My wife Bev was a WAF in the Air Force when we met. She liked to dance and rock ’n roll, we became engaged and then got married. In those days, when the WAFs got married they had to leave the service so that’s what she did. Our two sons were born in Sale. Bev isn’t Aboriginal; she grew up in a big family in Manjimup, Western Australia. They also have a proud military heritage: her aunty served in the Air Force and her grandfather served in Korea and in World War II.
All these photographs are of my days in the Air Force. At the top is the support group that I was a part of, that went to the United States in 1974 to prepare that F-111 fighter bomber for delivery to Australia. Below that, on the left, is me as a you ng bloke, in my forklift driver overalls, arou nd twelve months after joining the Air Force. On the right is my Commissioning Officer presenting me with the Defence Force Medal in Malaysia in 1985. Below that is a formal photograph I had taken of me to send to my mother a nd wife. At the bottom is me sta nding next to NSW Governor Bashir, surrou nded by children, at the Me morial in Hyde Park on the last Friday of Reconciliation Week. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Harry Allie and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Harry Allie and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
Norma Burrows, Uncle Harry Allie
Our two sons identify as Aboriginal. I always believed in my Aboriginality, but I don’t believe that people should be forced; it’s something that they believe in themselves. My sons have always been aware of my people and seen the struggle. We bond together as a family unit; we’re there for each other. I left the Air Force in July 1989 but felt I wanted to keep working and I was fortunate that a major contract was awarded by the Army to Plessey Australia, and I got employed as the logistics manager, where I spent the next eleven years before being made redundant in 2000. I still wanted to keep working and I was again fortunate in getting employment with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. In my role I was dealing with the regional councils in the Sydney region, supporting members at meetings and with the policies. I did that for nearly nine years. Then I decided that it was time to step down and let somebody younger take over. However, because I’d been doing so much out in my community at Bankstown I felt that I would like to call in and help fix issues in the Southwest Sydney area. I was involved in a lot of committees, and being an ex-serviceman I’ve always helped to get recognition for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who’ve served their country. I was asked by the New South Wales Government to do a ceremony in Reconciliation Week at Hyde Park Memorial, recognising and honouring our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who serve their country. I am currently the chair of that committee as well. That’s just my part of trying to represent our people, to ensure that they’re included. Over the years there was never any recognition given to us, from the Boer War right through to the present day, of Aboriginals who had served their country. There were times when people said there were no Aboriginals, but the more you look at the records the more proof you’ll find. I was invited to be an ambassador for the New South Wales Anniversary at Gallipoli Council and the information’s there: over a thousand Aboriginal men served in World War 1. The stories are being brought out to the current generation that they had people serve their country, particularly at Gallipoli, so they can stand proud. The community wants to know, wants to be proud of their contribution, particularly their forefathers who put on a uniform and went away, despite being put
on missions and their families taken away. This is the sort of information that we are passing on to the other generations, to ensure that it is passed on, that they can be proud. The Chief of the Air Force invited me to go out in the community, to encourage people from every level to join the service, and then talk about my experiences. He also asked me to be the Inaugural Air Force Elder, which is a great honour. I help the cultural diversity unit, by going on the bases and talking to young people. It all goes down to the belief that they can be anything that they wish to be, whereas people from generations before never had that opportunity. We are giving them that opportunity. UWS is at the forefront of doing all these things, giving young people the opportunity to gain further education, to be what they want to a be, and while doing that to be proud of who they are. It’s building these bridges for them – once they come away from the communities there’s homesickness and then a settling that happens. So people like Elders on Campus and other people at UWS are aware of these things. We’re always encouraging them to come forward and talk to somebody, because there is always somebody there to listen and talk and help them as they move forward. I’ve been associated with UWS for nearly five years. I was invited onto the Advisory Board and it was an honour to be asked, particularly by such an establishment as UWS. I never did well at high school so I always thought there was no way I could participate or even go to university. With my experience, I think I can help in some way to contribute and make UWS a place of first choice for Aboriginal people. A whole host of things have to be looked at, reviewed, assessed and put into place. The people on the Board are very varied and enlightened, with a high degree of experience in the bigger world of Aboriginal culture. We can learn off each other. If we continue in that vein, then we’ll have a number one university, not only in Australia but at world level.
All we want is for the people to understand that we have a proud history. We didn’t have enough ambassadors to spread the word about who we were and I think that is changing. That’s why people understand the history now. I have people come to me and say I didn’t realise that happened. People say that because in my time I knew about Knights of the Roundtable in England, I knew more about geography in other parts of the world than I did about Australia. That’s what was passed on in those days. As we become older as a nation, we have to go back to our history, and Aboriginal history is part of it.
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FRAN BODKIN I’ve been an Elder on Campus for over five years and I also serve on several committees at UWS. I do a lot of education of the young ones, getting young Aboriginal kids into university and mentoring them. We started mentoring the kids from Year 7 onwards, to get them up to standard for university, but I’m actually starting from kindergarten now. We’re trying to develop their desire to learn more about our planet, the natural sciences. I think that kids want to have their curiosity awakened. If a kid doesn’t have any curiosity he doesn’t ever learn.
y mother, my grandfather and my great grandmother belonged to the Bidiagal clan of the Dharawal people. Pop identified mostly with the Woronora area – he loved the river intensely. The word ‘Woronora’ translates as ‘people of the Black Rock that burns’, because the people who lived there did not use the fire stick method, but carried the fire with them wherever they travelled. Mum and Nan over the years, whenever I was home, took me to many places within Dharawal lands to tell me the story of those places.
Having learned how to read and write from my Mum and Dad, I grew up disliking school, because I had learned more outside the schoolroom than I could learn inside. I wanted to learn everything in the universe, so I began to read books and learn from everything around me. However, in my final year of high school, I had the most wonderful English teacher who taught me to love, not just the English language, but all languages, and she instilled in me a love of learning. Learning is the greatest and most exciting invention of all, and this is what I try to teach the kids today.
My father was born here in Australia. His grandfather, though, was Irish/Native Canadian, of the Mohawk people, while his mother was Irish/Native Canadian of the Huron – traditional enemies. They fell in love and eloped to Australia to escape punishment.
Mum had a nervous breakdown after I was taken away, and they put her in an insane asylum where they showed her photographs of me and gave her electric shocks. They used aversion therapy against her own child, which didn’t work, but while she was in the asylum she became ill and was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
I was born under a tree on the corner of Foveaux and Crown Streets in Darlinghurst. Dad was taking Mum to hospital when the wheel came off the car and hit the tree and that’s where I was born. Given my passion for plants, it must have been meant to be. By the time I left school, I had been in fourteen foster homes and twelve schools. The first time I was taken away was when I was in kindergarten. I had drawn a pattern on the playground, and because Mum was Aboriginal the men in the brown suits took me away. Each foster home was further and further away from home because I used to run away and come back home until the men in brown suits arrived and took me away again. The last foster home was way out near Gundabooka between Cobar and Bourke. Both Dad and Mum had taught me to read and write before I went to school, and Dad would take me to Central Station and make me memorise the names of the railway stations in New South Wales, then he would tell me that if ever I was taken away, or if I was lost, find a railway and catch a train home. I knew the way to walk from Central Station to home.
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Her illness became worse and worse, and I was allowed to come home to help look after her and my brother and sister. Then when I was fourteen I left school because Mum was dying, and I worked at GJ Coles in Marrickville until I was fifteen. After Mum died I became obsessed with the need to learn everything I could, and I went to Dad’s relatives in Cobar where I learned to fly and helped to deliver mail to the outback. I had always wanted to be an eagle, which is my family’s ancestral creature, and flying helped. But I came back home; I missed my dad and the kids, and I was offered a job in Central Bank, which is what is now called the Reserve Bank. After three years I left the bank and went to work at Mascot Airport as a ground hostess greeting VIPs and arranging their transport to the city. Because I wanted to own my own home, I got a second job at night, teaching ballroom dancing, and one evening a member of parliament who had his electoral office next door, came in and wanted someone to type a letter for him. In those days they didn’t have secretaries and they had to pay for their own staff, so I typed a letter for him. This happened regularly until he
This romantic image is of my husband giving me a kiss on the balcony of Ca mpbelltown Hospital. It appeared on the front page of a local paper because it was taken on the day of the hospital opening and I was the first woman on the board of directors of any hospital in Australia. There was a lot going on behind that touching moment. I was pregnant at the time and I started to have contractions. My husband Gavin was trying to calm me down as there was no maternity ward at the hospital. I had a difficult pregna ncy a nd had to spend most of it lying down, which is when I wrote the book I’m holding – Encyclopaedia Bota nica. It was my first book a nd was inspired by my love of pla nts passed onto me by my mother, who taught me all a bout the different, usea ble properties of our native pla nts. My husba nd had to find me a pen that would write upside down as I wasn’t a ble to sit up a nd I wrote all 1200 pages of the book lying on my back. It contains over 11,000 pla nts a nd was the biggest book written a nd illustrated by one person at that time. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Aunty Fran Bodkin and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Aunty Fran Bodkin and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
In 1976 I met and married Gavin who is a Dharawal man, one of the few members of the Nattai clan left, and we had our son. I had a difficult pregnancy and had to spend most of my time in hospital, lying flat on my back, which is when I wrote my first book – the Encyclopaedia Botanica. It was inspired by my love of plants passed onto me by my mother, who taught me all about the different useable properties of our native plants. At the time it was the largest book ever written and illustrated by a single person. While I was working in the parliament I had this dream of having a botanic garden, a university and a hospital all working to understand, develop and use the properties of our native plants, so that eventually, people could have their medicine cabinet growing in their gardens. The botanic gardens would have only native plants, we would learn about their medicinal and environmental properties at the university, and implant the results of that learning in the hospital. We shared this dream with Gough Whitlam, who was Prime Minister at the time, and he set aside the funds to purchase the land, and now we have Campbelltown Hospital, the university is the Campbelltown campus of UWS and the native botanic garden is the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mt Annan. Sadly they are not working together. Perhaps one day. I am still working on it.
asked me to work for him as his researcher, so I became the very first researcher attached to a member of parliament. The job grew and I began to do research for other members too, one of whom was Jack Lang, who was partners with my boss in a newspaper. I researched and wrote stories for the newspaper, and was eventually given page three each week. I worked in that job from 1953 until 1981. Mr Lang and several MPs talked me into going to university, and I did. Here was a learning environment that gave you immense freedom. I did all the natural science subjects I could and used the knowledge gained in my research for the parliamentarians. However, it wasn’t until 1976, when Neville Wran first won government that I actually became an official employee of the NSW Parliament. He said that when he won the election he would create ninety-nine Frans – one for each of the members of the lower house.
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We chose Mt Annan as the site for the Botanic Gardens because it is a really important place, not only for the Dharawal people, but also for the peoples of the east coast. It was a traditional meeting place, and in the early 1800s William Howe stood on top of Mt Annan and saw what he said was ‘the campfire of 100,000 blacks’. That’s why the gardens are there. I had made a promise to mother all those years ago to protect the Yandelora, and I kept it. I am now an Elder on Campus, and I serve on several committees at UWS. I educate the young Aboriginal kids at school and prepare them for university. We are trying to develop their curiosity about ‘this land’, and to develop their desire to learn about our planet, and the natural sciences. We have to learn that we can live in harmony within the environment and do not have to destroy it.
Aunty Fran Bodkin at UWS Campbelltown Campus with students
NORMAN NEWLIN My association with UWS began with Professor Rhonda Craven who was at their Centre for Positive Psychology and Education at the time. We got involved in teaching the teachers, and developing their Aboriginal Studies Program. I was also a contributing writer to her book on Aboriginal education. Shortly after, I was invited to become an Elder on Campus. I’d done a lot of work with Aboriginal students at UTS, where I’d helped set up a centre for them, and I was invited to share that experience at UWS. Over the years I’ve visited a lot of schools, techs and institutions in the area, talking to the kids, trying to point them in the right direction, telling them that education is the only way through. It’s not the money, it’s to try and build their selfesteem, and if they’ve got that they can get anywhere.
y Aboriginal family, on my mother’s side, came from the Worimi country which is now Port Stephens, about fifty miles north of Newcastle. So they were coastal people with all the seafood that you could eat and all the land food as well. My father was an American merchant marine who jumped ship in 1906 and finished up in the Port Stephens area, where he married my mother in 1918. I was born at Soldiers Point and I grew up at Tea Gardens. That was a little bit further across the bay on the northern side of Port Stephens. I was the second youngest of eight: there were six boys and two girls and all my relatives in the area were Aboriginal people. Because my mother was married to a non-Aboriginal she was not allowed to live on a mission, so we lived in a house. My mother thought she was an ordinary citizen but she wasn’t. Back then the Aboriginal Welfare Board controlled your life and your money. My mother used to do washing and house cleaning for people who would pay her money to the Welfare Board and she’d just get a couple of bob off them. It’s in their own records in 1938 that they withheld ten pound nine shillings and a penny from her. That was a lot and my mother could’ve done with it but they robbed her. My mother had to apply to the Welfare Board for her own money. One time she went to Newcastle to get money and blankets and came back with a blanket that was so thin you could read a newspaper through it. This was a common thing not to pay us. They thought Aboriginal people had no brains, didn’t know how to handle money or do anything. Didn’t matter that they survived for all those thousands of years until the white man came. I went to school just enough not to get into trouble, but I was told I was stupid and go and sit out the back. I wasn’t getting an education and my mother couldn’t see the point of me being there, so I walked out of school to go and work in the bush. When the wildflowers were in season I used to go and pick them and sell them in town, and when the tides were right I used to go and get fish bait. I used to milk a
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
cow for a lady that had a boarding house, do her shopping for her on Saturdays, split wood for her, and for all that I got five bob a week. Back in 1928 there was a lot of discrimination. My eldest sister and brother were nearly kicked out of school after a group of white people wrote to the Education Department because they didn’t want their kids sitting with Aboriginal kids. When you went to the picture show all the Aboriginal kids and adults had to sit down the front, in a roped off area. You just accepted it and that’s all there was to it. Looking back it makes you angry because many was the time that the local copper would just walk into our house – he never knocked or asked permission – would just walk in and say to my mother ‘Missus your kids have been pinching’ and whether we’d been pinching or not it didn’t matter, we got the blame for it. You could get bitter and twisted but you’ve got to blame the system. When I was a young bloke of sixteen I got talked into going to Brisbane to work in a factory; that was in 1951 when the first lot of National Service came up. I put my age up and went in with the first intake and served with the army in Korea. I was in there nearly eight years until I drank myself out of it. Then I knocked around all over Australia just about doing all sorts of mongrel jobs in factories and out on the Nullarbor Plain. I worked in the asbestos mine at Whitnoon Gorge, I worked in the gold mines in Kalgoorlie, and I went fruit picking. Not being educated I wasn’t going to get any good jobs. I finished up being the town drunk for six or seven years and I was put in a psychiatric centre for my drinking. But I’ve overcome all that bitterness and hate and I haven’t had a drink in over forty-six years. I got conned into getting an education at the start of 1985 which is when I started writing poetry. I didn’t realise it at the time but I was writing out a lot of bitterness and anger. I was working as a low classification clerk at TAFE when a friend of mine, who was doing the Associate Diploma of Adult Studies, threatened to chuck it if I didn’t
enrol with her, so I did it. At that point I didn’t know anything about poetry but we were given an assignment to write either a 2,000 word essay or a poem and so I chose the poem. And that’s when I started to write poetry, in 1986, with an Arts grant for six months. In 1988 I received a grant from the Commonwealth that I used to go to America to talk to the black and native North American writers and poets there. When I came back I was offered the position of Aboriginal Writer in Residence at the Charles Sturt University’s Mitchell campus in Bathurst. One night I was doing a reading of my work at the Harold Park Hotel and a senior lecturer from UTS happened to be there. She got in touch with me and talked me into doing a Communications degree. I did it because I thought I’d crack a better job at TAFE.
The photograph on the top left was taken at my graduation after receiving my degree in Commu nications. Next to it is a very early photograph of my fa mily taken in 1915, showing my gra ndparents, my gra ndmother’s sister a nd her daughter, my mother, her sisters a nd her brother. Below that is me in my Army u niform; I was in Japa n waiting to come home after serving in Korea. The book I a m holding, titled My Worimi Lovesong Drea ming is a collection of my poe ms. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Norm Newlin and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Norman Newlin and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
I was doing my degree part-time when I got the offer to lecture in Aboriginal Studies at the Institute of Early Childhood. From there I went to NSW University and I lectured in Aboriginal Studies. After that, I began working in the jails as I thought I’d be more use there. I worked in education and as a drug and alcohol counsellor until I retired in 1999. I used to go back as a visiting elder up until four years ago. Things haven’t changed much for many people, there’s still a lot of discrimination around. It’s subtle but it’s there. You can’t get rid of it because you can’t legislate with people’s minds. Racism is taught – blind people are not racist. I turned my anger into a redeeming process through my writing. I wrote a poem called The Sanctimonious Bastard, about things that happened to my mother. After I finished it I sat down and had a good cry and I thought, ‘That’s it, I’ll never write another thing’. Then about six weeks later I wrote another poem and I called it Sweet Water. It was like a breakthrough for me, and from that point on I was able to write angry things but it didn’t consume me. That process healed my heart. My association with UWS began with Professor Rhonda Craven who was at their Centre for Positive Psychology and Education at the time. We got involved in teaching the teachers, and developing their Aboriginal Studies Program. I was also a contributing writer to her book on Aboriginal education. Shortly after, I was invited to become an Elder on Campus. I’d done a lot of work with Aboriginal students at UTS, where I’d helped set up a centre for them, and I was invited to share that experience at UWS. Over the years I’ve visited a lot of schools, techs and institutions in the area, talking to the kids, trying to point them in the right direction, telling them that education is the only way through. It’s not the money, it’s to try and build their self-esteem, and if they’ve got that they can get anywhere.
Uncle Norman Newlin with students
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I tell them my story, about how I went from being a sweeper to an academic in six years. If you apply yourself you can do it.
NOELINE BRIGGS-SMITH OAM A
unty Noeline is a researcher and author. Her qualifications include a Certificate of Health and Physical Practice and an Advanced Diploma of Arts (Local Family and Applied History).
The daughter of Norman Frederick Briggs (Graham) and Rita Joan Duncan, Aunty Noeline was born during the Aboriginal Protection era and was educated at the Moree Aboriginal Reserve School. She is a member of the Kamilaroi nation of Moree, the second largest Aboriginal nation on the eastern side of Australia. Aunty Noeline has worked as a supervisor of ethnic women employees at the Reserve Bank of Australia; as a personal care officer at Fairview Hostel for the Aged; as an activities director at Fairview Nursing Home for the Aged; and as an Aboriginal researcher at the Dhiiyaan Indigenous Centre, among other positions. She has served as Chairperson at Wirraway Aboriginal Womens Housing Scheme (1985-95); as Chairperson of the Terry Hie Hie Co-Operative Committee since 2009; as a member of the Moree Aboriginal Historical Group; as a member of the Gwydir Family History Society (1994-98); as a member of the Moree Local Aboriginal Land Council; and as Chairperson for Thiyama-li Aboriginal Family Violence Service (2008-2010). In 2011 Aunty Noeline was a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal. She is also the recipient of a NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Award.
WES MARNE I was working with the University of Western Sydney long before they had a campus; in fact I came here and did the smoking ceremony before they’d put the buildings here. I’m more of an advisor now – I work with children coming in from the outback, from out west. They come in here and we encourage them to stay, and go to university for a better education. I think that’s the best thing that this university is doing, and not only for Aboriginal kids. I get a kick out of seeing all the chances that our children have, to be something and to do something with their lives. I seem to have been an Elder on Campus forever. A lot of people want to know about Aboriginal culture and hear the Dreamtime stories. Many of the elderly people want to listen to Dreamtime stories because they don’t know them. These things have to be told. If they’re not told they’ll forget that they had them.
am Bigambul man and my father’s people come from southern Queensland. My mother was Palawa, from Tasmania. I was born in a truck and grew up on a mission called Deadbird, about thirty-five miles west of Inverell. I was about ten when we went to the mission. There was only me and Mum when we came down from southern Queensland. The government only brought about three families down – we were all from different places and we couldn’t understand each other. I’ve always believed that it was deliberate, to break down the communities. We weren’t allowed to speak our language, either. We went to school to learn English and it became the common language of the families. I went to primary school in Ashford. I left school when I was eleven because there were too many Aboriginal people there. In those days they only allowed a certain number of Aboriginal people into the school, so if there were too many the oldest one had to leave. I don’t think they wanted us at school anyway. My first job was as a water boy - I used to carry the water for the men ring-barking trees, which was seasonal. Then around Ashford they were growing tobacco, and I worked on tobacco for many years. We’re talking about the Depression and people didn’t want Aboriginal people there, so I never had a permanent job. In my early life I lived out with my people in the bush, in a tin shed. When I came down from the bush I was working at Botany. I was there for about twelve months and then I busted my back in an accident. I got some compensation but not much. I’ve been doing unskilled labour most of my life. I also got married twice along the way. I’ve got two daughters from my second wife. There’ve been some tough times. I remember once I went down to Shepparton in Victoria to work and I got locked up for nine months, for being on the street after five o’clock in the afternoon. I was talking to some blokes on the corner, and the police came along, knew that I was a stranger, and locked me up. We never went to court. Even in New South
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Wales we had to be off the street by a certain time. I’m talking about the 1950s – they could lock you up and you had no say in anything. When we lived on the Aboriginal reserve out of Ashford they came and told us if we wanted to we could move uptown. They gave us a form to fill out, and once you moved uptown they gave you another form. It was like a huge card and it said, ‘Now that you have moved uptown, you are entitled to walk through town without being arrested. You can enter a hotel or a store, but you will only be served at the discretion of the manager. Now that you are living with the white man you are not allowed to talk your native language. You are not allowed to join in the dances of your people, you are not allowed to even go back onto a reserve and talk to Aboriginal people, or even your parents.’ I produced it every chance that I got, when I got into an argument with somebody over what we were entitled to. It was a government form. That’s how we lived, that’s what we had to put up with. I’ve seen such terrible things happen to our people that it’s hard to believe that they did happen. I’ve seen them come and take the children and I was always on the run, always scared that somebody would come and take us. I had a brother-in-law who went to a boys’ home and that was terrible. I’m not bitter about that, I just hope that people don’t forget that these things happened. I believe that we should remember these things. I’m a Dreamtime storyteller, my father was a storyteller and my grandfather and his father and so on, for all these thousands of years. I honestly believe it’s made a better man out of me, knowing the stories and being allowed to talk about them. I tell stories in the schools and I think working with children has benefited me more than anything I ever had, to be recognised by the children as Uncle Wes the storyteller. I think a lot of Aboriginal people don’t have a sense of belonging because they’ve lost that story about their own past. And to make
things worse I honestly think that our younger people today are not listening to the old people. They’re living in a different world now – there are too many distractions. When we lived tribally, we lived under the law of the others, but here you make your own laws. The government says you can’t chastise your children but that was part of being reared, to know right from wrong. If you’re doing wrong you’ve got to be punished. I think that we’ve gone backwards in the last few years because of this, taking the power of the parents away so children have more rights than we do. My people, Aboriginal people, are the oldest living culture on God’s earth and we know that, don’t we? This is something to be proud of. I’m proud of it and I still want to learn more – I can’t get enough of it. Nowadays our children don’t know who they are. Most children, when I ask them what tribe they belong to, they don’t know, so that’s a problem. When I first came to Sydney and tried to get into the schools to tell stories they didn’t want us. Finally they did allow us into the schools but it was stipulated that ‘You’re here to talk about the Dreamtime. You are not allowed to talk about the early settlers,
I’ve spent over fifty years, visiting schools all over Australia, telling children of all ages stories a bout the Drea mtime. This photograph of me was taken on one of those ma ny visits. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Wes Marne and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Wes Marne and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
Professor Roy Tasker, Kim Jarvis & Uncle Wes Marne
you are not allowed to talk about the invasion days, you are not allowed to talk about massacres or atrocities’. However, Dreamtime stories are moral stories and I thought when we talk about Aboriginal Dreamtime let’s talk about the lot. So I just told Dreamtime stories for years and years, and over time I learnt how to talk about Aboriginal culture. It’s been a hard road, but I’m satisfied now. I was there when it started and I’m still in it today. These stories go on and on for ever. In my line of people, even when I die, the stories keep going on in everlasting circles and will never be lost. In the future I’ll get somebody to go on telling them. It’s very important that it continues. I’ve been an Elder of my people for thirty-five years. Being an Elder is a twenty-four seven job now. In the old days the Elders used to give out their wisdom but now you have to be there. If people have trouble, then I’m with them there, when they face up to whatever it is. I believe I have to be there so they’re not alone. I think things are getting worse. Drugs and alcohol are making a mess of our people; not only Aboriginal people, but the whole community. You can’t do anything about it – they just don’t listen, they don’t want to listen to you. I was working with the University of Western Sydney long before they had a campus, in fact I came here and did the smoking ceremony before they’d put the buildings here. I’m more of an advisor now – I work with children coming in from the outback, from out west. They come in here and we encourage them to stay and go to university for a better education. I think that’s the best thing that this university is doing, and not only for Aboriginal kids. Every kid should be entitled to the same chances to be educated and make something of themselves. I can remember when you faced up with a mob of men to get a job. The Aboriginal person was always the last one to get picked and the first one to be let go. In those days we never had anything like Centrelink. The only thing that we got was what we earned, and the Protection Board used to take part of our money. Hard work and a good education give you control over your life. Nowadays I get a kick out of seeing all the chances that our children have, to be something and to do something with their lives. I think it’s great that they can have these chances, chances that I and all the other elderly people never had. I seem to have been an Elder on Campus forever. I go to different campuses and do whatever they want and need. A lot of people want to
know about Aboriginal culture and hear the Dreamtime stories. Many of the elderly people want to listen to Dreamtime stories because they don’t know them, including mainstream people too. They feel good when I’m doing this. A lot of the older Indigenous people are not talking about their culture, not talking about their past, and their children and their grandchildren don’t know anything. These things have to be told. If they’re not told they’ll forget that they had them. Our culture revolves around caring and sharing with everybody. Our children always had somebody. For instance if a mother died in the night, the baby had another mum the next morning – somebody else would carry on. It’s kinship. When we look back on it, we were Communist one hundred percent. We made it work and it did work for us for a thousand years. I think that’s what kinship is all about, everybody coming together as one. It tells you who you belong to and where you come from.
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
THELMA QUARTEY My first association with UWS was through Pearl Wymarra twenty-five years ago. I helped organise an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander network in Hawkesbury for them. Our dance group went and performed Torres Strait dances and music there. Years later, while on secondment with the Australian Electoral Commission, I met with Uncle Harry Allie who was a member of the UWS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Advisory Board. He asked me to talk to the Board about what’s happening in the community, so I presented to them the Indigenous Electoral Participation program I was working on. The following year I was asked to sit on the Advisory Board. As part of the Advisory Board I’ve participated in the development of the UWS Action Plan. It is there for the recognition of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communitys, for the university to become aware of who we are as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander type people, and to understand that our needs are different to mainstream people. There has to be that support, for all staff and students, to be able to feel free to go and get that assistance and support.
y family, on my mother’s side, is from Murray Island in eastern Torres Strait, where the Great Barrier Reef starts. That’s where I’m from. The people from Murray Island are called Meriam People. My father’s side is from Badu, the largest island in western Torres Strait. So Mum’s language is Meriam, and on my Dad’s side they speak Kalaw Lagaw Ya. Our two families are related to clans throughout the whole five Torres Strait regions. We go back about sixteen generations before Captain Torres, the Spanish explorer who Torres Strait is named after. He came here way before Cook. After the war, my family moved from Murray to Thursday Island to find work. From there I came down to Innisfail with my maternal grandparents. The old man wanted to get us a better education and have a better life. His motto was to learn their language and speak their language so you could negotiate as an equal. Back in those days they had to go to the Aboriginal Protector for their wages and of course they would give them their wages in milk, sugar, rice, flour, not money. That’s why he wanted us to learn their language, so we could negotiate for ourselves. I was three years old when we arrived, so I grew up and went to primary school in Innisfail. I did first year of high school in Innisfail and then my grandfather died. My grandmother became very sick after she lost her husband and so she was up and down to Townsville Hospital. During this time my biological mother asked her if I could come and stay with her, and help with the younger kids, as well as going to school in Townsville. So I came and stayed with her in my second year of high school. By the time I was fifteen, I think there was seven of us children, so I began doing the night shift at the prawn factory to help support us. I couldn’t maintain going to school in the mornings so I quit school at fifteen and I’ve been working ever since. I would travel from Innisfail to Sarina (in Mackay), work, and then go back again. I did come down to Brisbane, after my twenty-
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first, and did a course in Woodbridge, and I went to Kelvin Grove Teachers College for a year, but then I became pregnant so I didn’t return to complete. However, I did eventually complete my education in 2006, when I was fifty years old and got my degree in Adult Education and Community Management at UTS. I got married when I was twenty-six. We had one baby with another on the way, so we settled in Sydney. My husband is West African, from Ghana, I met him when I was on holidays in Sydney. After the kids were in school I started working again. I was lucky at the time. I joined the Immigration Department, because the personnel officer was an Aboriginal lady and she worked on employing more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Department, and she helped me. It worked out well because my husband was a night shift worker, at the Bonds shirt factory, so he’d pick up the kids from school and do all that, and then I’d come home and take over when he went to work. I stayed at Immigration for about twenty years. As soon as I started there I joined the union and saw that there were all these supports for people from non-English backgrounds and yet there was nothing for us Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and at that time there were about thirty of us in Immigration. There were all these negative comments made about us and we got all the menial jobs. So I volunteered to approach the Department to talk about our rights. It was when all this cultural awareness was starting up, and so over seven years of representation and negotiation we finally started up an Aboriginal Torres and Strait Islander staff, employment, retention and development strategy. At that time, ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission) and the TSRA (Torres Strait Regional Authority) were formed to look after people in the Torres Strait and northern peninsular area. We had members from each state and territory appointed by the minister. I became board member for New South Wales and the ACT and held that position from 1984 to 1996.
The images are of the traditional Torres Strait Isla nd dru m a nd the Christia n cross. The dru m signifies what we lived by, the initiations, celebrations, gatherings a nd commu nication. When we here the dru m we know the cere monies are a bout to begin. It spoke the songs that we sa ng. We used it to talk to each other, to tell stories. It re minds me of who I a m, my past, where I’m from. The cross represents my faith introduced by the London Missionary Society, now called the Anglica n Church. They arrived in the Torres Strait Isla nds on 1 July, 1876. We accepted the Bible teachings because the laws it contained were the sa me as our traditional laws. They prayed to a supre me being just like we did. We celebrate their arrival every year. Historically, men in every commu nity served as priests a nd in my fa mily we go back sixteen or seventeen generations serving in the church that is the Traditional a nd Conte mporary church. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Aunty Thelma Quartey and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Aunty Thelma Quartey and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
I think that having to struggle is what makes you who you are. I mean Townsville was the worst place for discrimination. Every second week there’d be a fight between a black kid and a white kid, so you learn it’s there. So you either stand up or you ignore it, because it’s not your fault, it’s not your problem, it’s their problem. There were eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families living in Townsville at the time and they used to meet together at night to discuss how to deal with the situations with regards to cultural and social issues - for example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to mainstream services. You’d go to Townsville General Hospital and you were the last one seen after everyone else. You’d go to apply for housing rental and the houses were not available to rent. Those sort of things were there, you knew it and you saw it. So the strategy was to compile all this evidence of discrimination. I attended a lot of these meetings and they eventually decided to raise funds and supply our own medical centre. They started the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Centre which is still there now. Looking back, my grandfather was one of the biggest influences in my life. He believed in education and equality. He was a business
Jack Pearson and Aunty Thelma Quartey
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man and always said that anything a white man can do a black man can also do. So we’re all equal. My culture has always been strong in me. I’m thankful for that because we always had it through our grandparents and the parents. And now that I’m in Sydney the majority of the family members here are from Dad’s side and I’m starting to learn his language because I don’t know a lot of it as I grew up mainly on Mum’s side. Now that I’m here in Sydney, the old people are teaching me my father’s language. My first association with UWS was through Pearl Wymarra, when she started there twenty-five years ago. I helped organise an Indigenous network in Hawkesbury for them a year later. Our dance group, about fifteen of us, went and performed Torres Strait dances and music there, all those years ago. Long after that, I finished my degree and I went back to work, this time at the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. While there I noticed a position called ‘Footprints in Time’ which was research on all our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids. So I applied and spent the next two years on that research study in the Marsfield, Sydney, area. I then went back to Immigration, and noticed the Australian Electoral Commission was doing this Indigenous Electoral Participation program, and I was seconded to the Australian Electoral Commission for four years. During this time I met with Uncle Harry Allie who was a member of the UWS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Board. He asked me to talk to the Board about what’s happening in the community, so I presented the Indigenous Electoral Participation program to them. The following year I was asked to sit on the Advisory Board. As part of the Advisory Board, I’ve participated in the development of the UWS Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement Action Plan. It is there for the recognition of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, for the University to become aware of who we are as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to understand that our needs are different to mainstream people. There has to be that support,
Aunty Thelma Quartey
and Professor Michae
for all staff and students, to be able to feel free to go and get that assistance and support. What it boils down to is accepting who Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander are. Just because they don’t look the part doesn’t mean they’re not. There’s a lot to learn from us. How we lived off the land and off the sea. You knew what garden to grow, when to grow, you knew what fish to take out of the water. And you only took what you needed: you didn’t take any more, you didn’t waste anything. And when the wind blows you know you’ve got to tie up the shoots that are growing in the ground, so they’ll grow straight. That’s how parents learn about teaching their children to grow. When the white people in government went up to the Islands, their power was the language. But the Islander people, our men, would ask them to sit on the ground and talk to us at that level. Not at the table. Sit on the ground and cross your legs and yarn with us. Once you have that, then you’re equal.
REX SORBY My first involvement with UWS came about five years ago when they asked me if I’d offer my union experience to help resolve a staff issue. After that they asked me to be one of the Elders on Campus and I’ve been here ever since. I’m also involved with the UWS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy Consultative Committee. With all these things at UWS I am hoping that the end result will benefit all Aboriginal people, with more avenues being opened up to them and that it will be their first choice to come here. Where UWS is situated it’s got the most Aboriginal people in Sydney and I’m hoping everybody that’s Aboriginal goes through here. Education is one of the most crucial things in anybody’s language now – it changes your future. UWS is playing a big part in that at the moment, and I would hope that all universities right through Australia will apply these policies. I reckon UWS is the best role model at the moment, in Australia.
’m a Kamilaroi, an area that runs from Coonabarabran right up to the Queensland border, and which includes Moree, Walgett and all those places. Both sides of the family are Kamilaroi. The eldest of four children, I was born and grew up on Burra-Bee-Dee, an Aboriginal mission between Coonabarabran and Gunnedah, run by the Aboriginal Protection Board. My mother’s mother was born there too. There were about a hundred of us, mostly our extended family. Nobody spoke the Kamilaroi language because if you did they’d arrest you, so it died off. We didn’t have electricity or water laid on; we didn’t have sewerage, we didn’t have air conditioning. We didn’t have anything. We survived and I’m here to talk about that. The mission was 640 acres and we used to go hunting or craw bobbing (yabbying) and witchetty grub hunting. It was a pretty good country life for a kid but we did it tough, particularly for me as my father went to war and was killed in Malaysia when I was eight years old, so we had to get by on mum’s war widow pension. I went to primary school on the mission. It was a pretty little school and classes were from first to sixth class. One teacher taught all of us. When I was about fourteen I was sent to Coonabarabran high school. The bus picked us up, took us to school and brought us home, so the only time I really had with white people was at high school. I got on pretty well with everybody and was involved in all sorts of sports. We were all treated the same. I left when I was about fifteen because it wasn’t worth going to school; I wasn’t learning much and we couldn’t get a job. I don’t know whether it was discrimination or just lack of jobs, but there was no work in Coonabarabran. So I just stayed on the mission until I was sixteen or so. Then Legacy got my mother a house in Quirindi, which is a bigger town, about a hundred miles away. I thought it was pretty good actually; we could have a fridge, electric lights and water. Then Legacy got me a job as an apprentice motor mechanic. I went
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from one company to another and finished up working in the panel beater’s shop. I didn’t finish my apprenticeship because I was only getting about two or three pounds a week and I decided I could go and get an adult wage as a labourer on the railway. I didn’t know what the difference was, I just looked at how much money they were going to pay me. So I went from two to ten quid a week – that’s a big difference. That’s what a lot of people did; that’s why they do it today. I lived away from home, camping in a six by four tent they provided, cooking all my own meals, buying all my own stuff. It taught you to be self-reliant. I ended up working with the railways for nearly twenty years, and then I was elected to a union job around 1981. I had earlier been involved in organising a stoppage as part of our fight for justice and better pay for some of the lowest paid workers in Australia. They were doing it tough out there laying sleepers and tracks in the heat and cold. We succeeding in winning better pay and conditions for them and this led to the industrial officer role. I became the first Aboriginal to become a full-time union organiser and held that position until 1995. My first involvement with UWS was when we came here to see Melissa and they had a dispute on, a staff problem. They asked me if I’d offer my union experience working with clerical staff, so we sat down and had a meeting and I resolved it. After that they asked me to be one of the Elders on Campus and I’ve been here ever since. I’m also involved with the UWS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy Consultative Committee. With all these things at UWS I am hoping that the end result will benefit all Aboriginal people. I’ve got some grandkids and they would benefit by it too with more avenues being opened up to them, they can come out and apply and they might get accepted as a student or whatever. That it would be their first choice to come her.
This was a photo taken of me when I was first elected to the position of Union Orga niser at the Australia n Railways Union. I held the position from 1981 u ntil my retire ment in 1995. I had earlier been involved in orga nising a stoppage as part of our fight for justice a nd better pay for some of the lowest paid workers in Australia. They were doing it tough out there laying sleepers a nd tracks in the heat a nd cold. We succeeding in winning better pay a nd conditions for the m a nd this led to the industrial officer role. The picture of the stea m engine is taken from the front cover of the book Working Lives – History of the Australia n Railways Union (NSW Bra nch) a nd is of train Nu mber 806, a n old 1930s stea m engine that was a common sight in my early days. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Rex Sorby and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Rex Sorby and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
Aunty Sandra Lee, Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Uncle Rex Sorby
Where UWS is situated it’s got the most Aboriginal people in Sydney and I’m hoping everybody that’s Aboriginal goes through here. I hope all the policies we have to introduce in the next year or two years would suit all Aboriginal people, that it would become the choice of university for Aboriginal people. Their attitude, the policies, and new policies we have to introduce, will be one of those things that Aboriginal people will say, Well I’m gonna apply for a job, apply for a scholarship or whatever there. Education is one of the most crucial things in anybody’s language now, it changes your future. When I was a kid Aboriginal people wouldn’t dream of going to university - we didn’t even go past sixth class. And now you’ve got lots of Aboriginal kids wanting to study or work at university. It’s certainly a big change as far as I’m concerned. UWS is playing a big part in that at the moment, and I would hope that all universities right through Australia will apply these policies. I reckon UWS is the best role model at the moment, in Australia. I’ve protected and fought for my Aboriginal culture. Some people didn’t like Aboriginal people, they used to call you all sorts of names. If anybody called me some names they’d have to be prepared to fight me. People are more respectful and more courteous now. But there are many Aboriginal kids out there struggling with identifying. People come from the bush now and they’ve got no idea who their families are, they get in all sorts of trouble. They finish up on the booze or killing themselves with drugs. They’ve got no extended family. They’ve got no one to turn to - they haven’t got that family involvement. It’s also probably the way they’re educated today. They go to school and I believe that they think they don’t need their mother and father and they fall by the wayside. I’m hoping that the Elders on Campus can put that back, bring the family back into it. I’m hoping that if we instill that into the kids that are coming to university they can instill it into their kids or their grandkids. Family certainly created a foundation for me. It’s part of what UWS is trying to do.
Uncle Rex Sorby and Uncle Wes Marne
Noel Pearson and Uncle Rex Sorby
Professor Peter Hutchings and Uncle Rex Sorby
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
MAE ROBINSON Being a University of Western Sydney Aboriginal Councillor and Elder on Campus is such an important role. I talk to the young Aboriginal people and they ask me things, lecturers will also come and ask questions. We carry our own cultural knowledge. I’ve walked the history of Aboriginal life, and been through the history of an Aboriginal person living in Australia and I’m passing that on. That’s what I like about what the University of Western Sydney is doing, bringing the knowledge of Aboriginal people to the learning space. I like seeing young men and women not only just learning but having the knowledge of Aboriginal history, Australian history, and they’re all equal.
M that’s inland.
y mob is very matriarchal, where I come from. My mum is from the south coast and comes from Batemans Bay. Her mob is Yuin, which is an important part of who I am, and my dad is Kamilaroi,
My mum was one of the Stolen Generation. She was placed into Cootamundra girls’ home, and from there she went out to work. She worked at Toomelah Aboriginal Mission in Moree and that’s where she met and married my father. It wasn’t a happy marriage and a while later the managers of Toomelah were transferring themselves and took my mother and me with them to Burnt Bridge Mission, and that’s where I grew up. I’m also one of those people who got taken away, by the Welfare Department. They stepped into places where they shouldn’t have, in my opinion. When I was in primary school, I went to Burnt Bridge public school which was all Aboriginal students. I always tell people I went to a very private school, one hundred percent Aboriginal students. A lot of us from there were very successful at high school: I won a Commonwealth bursary - a Koori girl on a bursary! And yet they took me away from Mum. My mum divorced and married into the Archibald clan, a very nice gentleman indeed, and a nice man to know as a father. We had a corrugated iron house, Mum and my stepfather, whom I call Dad. Burnt Bridge was a place of change for Aboriginal people around the whole of Macleay Valley because people like Mum and all the ladies at Burnt Bridge formed their own version of the CWA in opposition to the established Country Women’s Association in town. We had Burnt Bridge Marching Girls Association and we used to go to those sort of things and we competed. It was a place where people started to change for the better. Now, Kempsey was different. Country towns could be very racist places and we weren’t allowed to go to the swimming pool. These were the sort of things that we had to put up with. If you went to
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
the movies there you got roped off down the front. So the CWA Aboriginal women at Burnt Bridge organised our own movie shows in our own hall and all the Aboriginal people in the area came. That’s when they realised in Kempsey that we not only paid a lot of money to see movies we also spent money on food and chips. Within the month, they dropped the rope, they dropped that big Abo line, right down. The power of the women and men who were in those committees, their courage and cleverness in what they did, was great. All of a sudden, the Kempsey movie theatre, and lots of other places, realised we wouldn’t be treated like that anymore. I enjoyed going to high school when I was taken away to Cootamundra. I got my intermediate certificate while I was there, and I wanted to go onto Year 12 but they said I didn’t have the capacity to do it. Years later I received an honorary doctorate, so there you are. But the thing is, I was shocked that the teacher said that. Anyway, I got placed working for a doctor and his wife as their nanny and the doctor encouraged me to go to TAFE, which I did, where I learned typing, business principles and bookkeeping. I really did like learning. It was just something that I liked doing. After that I moved home to Kempsey and worked at Nestle. A couple of years later I met a man and married him and we’ve been together for over fifty years, and have three sons and five granchildren. My husband is of English descent, I love him because of who he is, he knows he married into a very, very posh clan. It was when we came back to Sydney that I started to study to be a teacher. I was watching television one day and I saw a mature age student graduating from Sydney Uni. I always wanted to be a teacher, so the next day I said to my husband, ‘I want to be a teacher. You’ll have to look after the family, I want to go studying.’ So that’s what I did. I went to Milperra CAE, which is now the University of Western Sydney Bankstown campus, and I graduated as a primary trained teacher. I was the first Aboriginal person to graduate from Milperra College. Dr David Barr, who was then the principal of the
CAE, sent me a letter and invited me to be on the council of the Milperra CAE, which was the beginning of my long association with the University. Years ago when I was in primary school at Burnt Bridge I asked this teacher, ‘Can Aboriginal people be teachers?’ He said, ‘Why are you asking?’ I said, ‘Well, I wouldn’t mind being one.’ He just turned around to me and he said, ‘Mavis, you can do whatever you like.’ I even said that when I received my honorary doctorate because it was so important to me that I had a teacher who was honest with you. A lot of young Aboriginal men and women who left Burnt Bridge went onto bigger and better things. Some of them have become solicitors, some of them have become lecturers. They just knew that there was something out there, and I still put it down to the teachers. I just find that you have to be an agent of change. I’m not only an Aboriginal person, I’m a female Aboriginal person who has been an agent of change because I believe we need to realise all those potentials in people. Women can change things when they need to - my mother taught me that.
What this photograph mea ns to me is happiness. Happiness is fa mily. Happiness is connection. This photo depicts the importa nce of fa mily. Happiness with my husba nd John a nd our three sons. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Aunty Mae Robinson and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Aunty Mae Robinson and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
My marriage has not interfered with my culture. It’s important to understand that just because we have differences in culture we don’t have differences because we are a man and a woman who are very much in love. And love is colour blind. So I have been able to hold positions with the Department of Education, been an Aboriginal education consultant, consultant with disadvantaged schools, consultant in multicultural education. I have helped develop the Aboriginal education policy. I’ve loved what I’ve done. I always felt that I wanted to be an agent of change, and I’ve been able to do that.
nd Aunty Mae Robinson and husba
Now I’m a University of Western Sydney Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councillor and Elder on Campus. It’s such an important role I’m surprised that other cultures haven’t done it. I’m an Aboriginal person and I can talk to the young Aboriginal people who are attending. Students come to know me, they come up and ask me things. Lecturers will also come and ask questions. We give that support to the Aboriginal students but we don’t have to do it just for Aboriginal people. We carry our own cultural knowledge and which is passed down to us over the years. I’ve walked the history of Aboriginal life, and to be seventy-one years of age you know that you have been through racism, you know that you have been through the history of an Aboriginal person living in Australia, but you also know that you have to respect others, that respect is shown. I’m passing that on. There are things that Aboriginals know that we could all learn from. That’s what I like about what the University of Western Sydney is doing, what Melissa is doing, bringing the knowledge of Aboriginal people to the learning space, to the University. I’m not only carrying my knowledge but also carrying who I am, and I’m proud of that. I have developed a connection to UWS. I like seeing young men and women, Australians, not only just learning about being a doctor but learning to be a doctor and working with people of different cultures, not just being a teacher but having the knowledge of Aboriginal history, Australian history and they’re all equal together.
Aunty Mae Robinson and sisters
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The Hon. Linda Burney, Aunty Mae Robinson
EDNA WATSON A
Darug Elder, Founder of Darug Custodians Aboriginal Corporation and long-time resident of Oakville, Aunty Edna is an artist and storyteller who has made significant contributions to preserving the Darug language and to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aunty Edna is a quiet achiever who is actively involved with local councils, NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW Reconciliation, TAFE NSW and the University of Western Sydney. Having developed a curriculum for NSW schools in Greater Western Sydney to revitalise the Darug language, Aunty Edna is well respected in the community and often referred to by government and industry on matters of protocol. As a keeper of the stories Aunty Edna dedicates her time to preserving this knowledge for future generations through art education. Some of her artwork now features in the UWS Art Collection and has earned Aunty Edna a University of Western Sydney Community Award. As a keeper of stories, Aunty Edna dedicates her time to preserving clan knowledge for future generations through art education.Â
Rhiannon Wright, Aunty Edna Watson and Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
This artwork was created by Aunty Edna Watson, Darug Elder. This artwork is called Yarramundi country.
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LEANNE WATSON M
y mother’s family is from the Darug tribe, which is predominately in the Hawkesbury area. We’re traced back to the Booroorongal clan, and we’ve got ties to the Liverpool area.
I was the youngest of six children, and I grew up and went to primary school in Kellyville. I then went to Baulkham Hills High School and finished in Year 10. I had aunties, uncles and cousins but the closest were in Mt Druitt. We were the only Aboriginal family in the area, and so I was the only Aboriginal kid in my school. When I was in kindergarten there was a mission in Kellyville, and my sister was with those kids when they went to school, but the mission closed down and they moved away. It was mostly Italian and Maltese around Kellyville, and market gardens. My sister got bullied quite a bit and Dad had to go down and sort them out. It was a very racist place. There were a lot of derogatory terms used and it affected me at the time as I was very shy. Once a month we had a film in the hall and I remember them showing a documentary about native Australians and it was very embarrassing. There was usually a lot of bullying after something like that. By the end of primary school I got a bit naughty, being defensive and protecting myself. A lot of Aboriginal people don’t look other people in the eye, it’s part of our culture where you’re not supposed to look people in the eye, and I used to get into trouble for that. A lot of the time the teachers would say I was lying because I couldn’t look them in the eye. It was the same at high school; I was still the only Aboriginal kid there and a target for people to make derogatory comments. It happened all the way through high school. My friends look back and say they didn’t realise at the time, they didn’t notice the differences in how we were treated, like me being followed around shops, me having my bag searched, not getting served in shops. I didn’t recognise it at the time either but as we got older they remember
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there was a fair bit of that kind of treatment. It’s made me more determined to do well and to help my people who have to put up with that daily. I am lucky because Mum is a very strong woman and she helped us to identify with being Aboriginal and our culture and to be proud. Mum and Dad are very hard working - we’ve always tried to do the right thing, be proud of who we are. I look back on all that stuff that has happened and I think it’s made me a better person. It’s given me compassion towards other people that it happens to, and I can see why they are the way they are sometimes, and why they’re not doing so well. I left school in Year 10 because I was mucking up a bit too much and Mum told me I wasn’t going on and had to get a job. I had been working at a local grocery shop for many years, sacking potatoes and stuff and then did some fertilizer packing. I then got a job with the Department of Finance in Parramatta, through the public service. They had a program for disabled people and Aboriginal people were put into that category, so I went straight into that job. It was in the Office of State Revenue and I was doing filing and clerical work, typing and admin. I did enjoy it and was there for a couple of years, then when I was eighteen I got married and had children, after which I did bar work for quite a while. I then began doing some archaeology and excavation work with the Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation, a traditional owner community group. When I was about twenty-one I did an archaeology course at the University of New England and continued with the digging and surveying and doing a lot of salvage work and site care. I eventually became chairperson in my late twenties. I felt a strong connection with the organisation - it was good to get out there and work with other Aboriginal people. Whenever there is any development planned, and before it comes through, we survey the areas and look for sites, evidence of habitation and artifacts. We try
to preserve as much as we can in areas that are significant sites, such as meeting places of different groups, and waterways, and we try and get them put into a conservation zone. If that doesn’t happen we go in and try and get as much information out as possible before it’s all destroyed. All four of our children have grown up identifying as Aboriginal. I’m pretty strong with it and I’ve always told them that they are Aboriginal, but they also got a lot of grief when they went through school, so it wasn’t like they could hide it. They got picked on quite a bit for being Aboriginal, not for being dark skinned because one of my daughters is blonde and blue eyed, but because the liaison officer singled them out. There were specific programs for Aboriginal kids like mentoring programs and visiting sites, and this caused resentment because other kids thought my kids were getting special treatment. My blonde daughter actually asked me to go to the school and tell them that she wasn’t Aboriginal and I said; ‘Well look at me … I can’t.’ My other two did Aboriginal dancing and one of my daughters works on Aboriginal language so it didn’t bother them, but it bothered the older one. My youngest one just says she’s Aboriginal Maori and doesn’t pick where she wants to be. I don’t speak the Darug language but I know a lot of words taught to me by my mother. She learned from her mother, who was fluent in the language, but in those days they were banned from using it openly, were told it was a dirty language, and had to hide it from the kids. My grandmother used to speak to her relatives but they didn’t teach it to Mum - she picked it up. Mum’s brother worked hard to bring it back, recording and re-writing the language. It was the Darug Custodian organisation that started the research to bring back a lot of the Darug culture and knowledge. My brother and Mum put in a land claim for a reserve in Baulkham Hills to get the name changed to a Darug name and it went through, so the custodians just kept it up. My uncle eventually established a Darug language class in Werrington.
For the past five years I’ve worked at Muru Mittigar, a not for profit organisation that works to promote Aboriginal culture, in particular Darug culture, and improve the economic and social opportunities and prospects of Aboriginal people. Muru Mittigar means ‘Pathway to Friends’ in the Darug language, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve. I am a contract coordinator, so I look after tendering and when contracts come in I also project manage the work. I am also involved in the culture section and a Knowledge Centre that we’re opening up. We also do a lot of education and training of Aboriginal people, which is something that I really enjoy. I just want to help our people as much as I can. There’s a lot of disadvantage out there, so if I can help anybody, that’s what I want to do. The lack of opportunity for a good education is one of the biggest issues with the disadvantages you see, and a lot of families are dysfunctional, and they don’t push their kids to go to school, either. The causes are really complicated. You’ve got to think that all our people were moved, shifted, families were broken up, kinship systems were broken down, all those connections with a tribe would be severed. Some people will try and get themselves together, but there are a lot of families where the working culture’s just not there. Or they think it’s too hard. I know it was difficult for me to go to university; I felt very out of place but I just did it. A lot of people would try but it just gets too hard. In my role I also mentor people that if they do go to university, I help them get in there and help them with anything that they need. I’ve been personally involved with the University of Western Sydney for about five or six years now. My daughter actually went to the Richmond campus where she did animal science, and my mother, Aunty Edna, is an Elder on Campus there. My connection is with the UWS Hawkesbury Riverfarm Project, an outdoor living and learning laboratory that links land, food, culture and water for educational purposes. I was asked to write a personalised history of the area and record it. It was then put on iPods so when schools visit the site
Leanne Watson and Professor Wayne McKenna
they get to listen to our stories as well as learn about what people did here as they walk around. We also established a scent garden, like a medicine bush tucker garden out at the Riverfarm. We’ve been talking about bringing back the yam, which was a staple food here but has disappeared from the area. So we’re planning to start growing yams here again. I also do cultural talks and run workshops, at the UWS Werrington campus, when regional high school kids come to town, or for those just starting out at university. My mother is an Elder on Campus here but is trying not to spread herself out as much, so I’ve been called in on a few occasions. I could never be her, or replace her, I can’t do as much as she can. However, she taught me to be proud of who I am, and not let anything hold me back and that’s what I’m trying to pass on to our kids. I’m trying to get more Aboriginal people into university, and help them understand that they’re not just going through mainstream, that they can choose to study things that are relevant to what they’re actually doing, uni can fit in with work.
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
GREG SIMMS I’m one of the Elders on Campus at UWS. The beauty of it is we all come from different tribal backgrounds, different language areas. We make sure our students are looked after, that there’s no racism in the University. Because black and white, we all belong to the one culture, you know. We don’t just see people from our circle, you’re part of us too you know, part of our heritage and culture. We’re all one mob. The Elders on Campus, we are the mentors, not just for our students just coming on campus, but we’re also teachers and mentors for lecturers, because they don’t have it all. No matter how educated you are, if you learn a little bit about us, then you’ll benefit from that. Teaching is never going to become a one way street, it’s always been two way.
y mob was Gadigal in Sydney; we’re Whale People of the Darug Nation. And on my mum’s side we’re Yuin nation people. We also have links to the Gundungurra, Water Dragon and Lizard People of the Blue
I grew up in La Perouse, on the Aboriginal reserve on the eastern shores of Botany Bay, and I was the youngest of a big family, my parents, brother and sisters, grandfather and lots of cousins. I went to primary school in La Perouse. I remember the teachers, they were wonderful. I believe La Perouse public school is where reconciliation started, back in the fifties, you know. White kids wanted to swap sandwiches with us. Their family couldn’t afford to buy any devon or ham or chicken, so they swapped with what they might have, like a peanut butter sandwich, or anything cheap. We were all one family you know, black and white. Growing up I didn’t know what discriminations was. The teachers never talked about it because we didn’t have any at school. I remember one time cousins of mine wanted to wag school and asked me to join them. So the devil won and we all ended up down at the creek behind La Perouse public school. I was catching eels and we had the fire going near the water, and we’d chuck the eels on the coals, cooking them up. Sitting down there were black fellas, and white fellas, it was all mixed. They could see the smoke from the school and the principal told a couple of teachers to go down and see what’s going on. A shadow cast over us and I looked up and I said to the cousins ‘We’ve been sprung.’ And when we all looked up they just smiled at us and walked away. The next morning the teachers were at the gate waiting for us and told us the head master wanted to see me. When I got to the head master’s office he had a big smile on his face and you know what the head master said? He said: ‘The next time you’re thinking of going back down to the creek to get some eel, invite me because I’d like to come along too.’ The teachers who
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caught us that day, well we more or less educated them, you know, and the head master was proud of what we had done. After that I went to Matraville High. I left at fourteen because my dad had a stroke and he was very sick. I felt I had enough knowledge, with all the things the old people had taught us. There was no discipline, they just talked about a lot of things, people and animals, and they’d connect with me. They taught us how to respect. If you’ve got no respect nothing’s good for you. If you learn to respect then you become a good ambassador. We also did a lot of hard work, carrying old wardrobes and old lounges from the tip down into the bush, building cubby houses. That taught us how to become good workers. And we learnt how to become good parents, and good grandparents. At school I was good at art, drawing. I still do paintings, I still do drawings. I might dream of something and when I get up I draw that, and then I might put it into a painting form, tell a story. I don’t sell it, I donate all my artwork, and it goes towards the Cancer Council or to help sick kids or kids with autism. After leaving school my very first job was in a rag factory, stuffing rags into hessian bags and I earned four pounds eight shillings a week. For a fourteen year old I thought that was quite good. After that I went into the timber yard in Botany. During that time we had Jimmy Duncan come and visit us. He was the son Jimmy Blacksmith had with a white woman. She was the reason they hunted Jimmy Blacksmith down and killed him. Jimmy Duncan was like family, like Dad’s step brother. As I got older I ended up working for the construction mobs, putting up scaffolding. We’d pick up work at the pub where they’d come looking for workers. We’d get $100 a day, and could end up with $800 or $900 doing overtime. That was good money.
The photo is of my father a nd other men from the Gadigal a nd Dharawal people, of the Darug nation, taken at La Perouse in 1932. He was twenty-three years old at the time. They were preparing to walk to the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. As traditional owners of the la nd they had to be there, representing their people in a traditional way, on this importa nt occasion. The markings on their bodies represent the Dharawal people, they’re the sign of the Whale People. We are the Whale People of Sydney. The markings you ca n see on their chests a nd ru nning down their arms represent whale ribs a nd backbone. It was a spiritual occasion that honoured a nd represented the traditional people of Sydney. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Greg Simms and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Greg Simms and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
I’ve done manual work most of my life but now I’ve got two jobs that are very different. I work at Ability Options; we’re service providers helping people with disabilities who are trying to get a job. I’m also working with Boystown, their employment agency.
A lot of people say to me ‘We’re not Aboriginal’ and I’ll say to them ‘How do you know that for a fact?’ I say, when you go home get out your family tree, grab it with both hands and shake it, and don’t be surprised that an Aboriginal person drops out of it.
I made the change a few years ago while working in a factory in Blacktown. I wanted to do coaching work so I started going around schools doing cultural awareness programs, teaching them about Aboriginal culture. I started up a dance troupe and I’d do traditional wood carving. It went on for years, and then my wife passed away in early 2001; I was in Mt Druitt at the time. My wife brought me out here in 1984 and I’ve been in the same house ever since. I was lying in bed one night thinking about my wife and my mother-in-law and then it hit me: I’ve been brought to Mt Druitt for a reason, because how could these two women bring me here and then die and leave me here on my own. So I’m here for a reason .
I’m not someone who’d say to a white person that you’re too white to be black. A lot of black people say that and I find it very disturbing. You’re too white to be black. But you know, if you made yourself a cup of coffee, no matter how much milk you put in that coffee, it’s still coffee. We need to do the work as one lot of people, black or white, because like my Aunt Susie always says - the music will always sound better if we use both the black and white keys.
I look at it this way. It was a jigsaw puzzle, and there was one little piece missing out of the puzzle and that piece was me. The stories that I tell, that no-one else can tell, that bring others together - I was the one carrying that piece of the puzzle. I was going out and doing what was missing in the communities, going out educating people about their own culture. I joined Ability Options about three years ago, after they engaged me to do a welcome to country at their offices in Penrith. They wanted me to do Aboriginal mentor training and awareness for the staff. I did it in a way that brought people together and after that they asked me to come and work with them. I’m now the Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer for Ability Options but I look after everyone. I’m not just an Aboriginal Elder but I’m also an activist. An activist in reconciliation. And I go out and if white people want to talk to me about issues I sit down and yarn up with them. I’m now also one of the Elders on campus at UWS. It only started last year and there are about fifteen or eighteen of us. The beauty of it is we all come from different tribal backgrounds, different language areas. We make sure our students are looked after, that there’s no racism. We don’t want any racism in the university. Because black and white, we all belong to the one culture. We don’t just see people from our circle, you’re part of us too you know, part of our heritage and culture. We’re all one mob.
Even with white skin we’re still Aboriginals. We’re still spiritual people. But you need that guide, having someone come along and take you on that learning. The Elders on Campus, we are the mentors, not just for our students just coming on campus, but we’re also teachers and mentors for lecturers, because they don’t have it all. No matter how educated you are, if you learn a little bit about us, then you’ll benefit from that. Teaching is never going to become a one way street; it’s always been two way. You know a lot of the white people nearly died in western Sydney, especially the farmers, back in 1788. They had farms established from Parramatta to Rouse Hill, way out to the foot of the mountains and the Hawkesbury. Yet, these people almost died from lack of fresh water, fresh meat and lettuces. The Aboriginal people came to their aid with fresh water, fresh meat and lettuces and special leeks to heal a bad wound. They nursed these white people back to health, otherwise they would have died. That’s why I tell people there’re two books sitting out there; there’s a book on white Australia, western Sydney early settlers, but in that book you might not read a story about the black man, he’s not included in the story, it was a white man’s story. So that’s a one way street. But if we pick up the Darug book, which is oral history that tells you what happened years ago, there’s a balance because we have black and white people in that book. Something’s getting in the way of the people actually finding their mob. And that’s what I do, I commit to people, to bring them together as one. Deputy Chancellor Gillian Shadwick, Uncle Greg Simms and Professor Barney Glover, Vice-Chancellor
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IVAN WELLINGTON I became an Elder on Campus at UWS through the work I do in detention centres, giving these boys a different direction but also holding on and keeping their culture. There was a need for people who represented Aboriginal people working there. I love seeing kids get ahead in life, it’s a passion of mine. Whoever the kid is he’ll be given everything I know of my culture. I got those skills from my family, from my elders on the lands where I come from but also from the many lands that I visit and I pass it on. It’s a privilege to help another human being progress and grow . UWS has given me an opportunity to do that for a lot of people.
y mother’s people come from a place we call in our language Culengati, which means ‘It’s a mountain of splendid beauty’. People now call it Coolangatta. My father’s people are from the Murrumbidgee and the Riverina area, the land of the Warridji people. They then moved south from Coolangatta, because of the lack of food available in the traditional ways, to a new mission on the mouth of the Shoalhaven and Crookhaven Rivers. It was a beautiful place with plenty of food in the river, on lake Wollumboula and also in the sea. They were full of native birds, swans, ducks, snakes and fish and prawns. There was plenty of tucker there and my people knew that and so they went. That’s where I grew up with my mob and all my clan. There were about twenty big houses - it was a tribe of wonderful people. The old people there lived in their traditional ways but the white managers and missionaries wanted us to change and take us away from that traditional way of life, our law and language, hunting and caring and sharing. I had the honour of seeing most of the old people, the last of them; before they died. That’s why when I was growing up I didn’t speak English, I spoke the old dialect, and it took me a while to make the change, switching languages, but I learned. It was a great outdoors life for a young boy; that’s why I now have strong connections to the land. I always knew I’d travel and I did that, after they pulled the fence down at the mission and we got our rights to be a free people. I had a wonderful journey; I visited a lot of traditional lands. I crossed a lot of rivers, I lived with their people, and I ate their food and learned their ways. It wasn’t as easy as it might sound; life is what you make it and that includes today. If you want to live rough and bad and hard you live that way. If you want to make it easy for yourself, you get out there and you do your share and make it easy. I got that from my
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parents, especially Mum; they had certain rules and so did the white managers and I knew them. We lived a good life. I went travelling across country. I wanted to learn about the land where my dad came from and see my people. He said it was flat country, a land where they grew a lot of fruit, around Griffith, Leeton and Narrandera. I worked my way across country by picking fruit, potatoes, peas and beans; I followed the seasons. It was one of the best experiences that a young man can ever have in his life. The people treated me well and taught me the right way to conduct myself, which Dad did in his days. I’m very proud of that. I respect the people, where I grew up and how I grew up, being taught to respect and listen to other people. I got it from my Elders and other Elders. I think my parents were preparing me for the change that was happening, the assimilation of Aboriginals into white society, especially Mum. I reckon it worried her because Doc, my oldest brother, didn’t want to leave the old ways, he didn’t want to change, but Mum saw that we needed to do that. My mother also worried we’d lose our identity and our culture. She didn’t want that to ever go from us, she loved the old ways of who we were, who we are and where we come from. There was no trouble, no nepotism or conflict. Everything was gathered, hunted and shared. She was right to worry and now I’m trying to get back what we lost. I worked at a lot of odd jobs because of my lack of education, but I loved hard yakka because it paid good money and I made a lot of good friends, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal along the way, with Greeks, Italians, Mexicans, Spaniards and fair dinkum Pommies. I now know a lot of people from my travels and experiences. I am trusted and respected by them and I know where I stand with people, I know the laws of these people. I eventually settled down and had my own family. It was when we moved to Campbelltown that I was asked to get involved with helping the local kids. I’d take
These photographs were taken of me in the gardens of the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation. It’s na med after the local cou ntry a nd people. I do a lot of cultural work with the m, telling stories of people, welcoming to cou ntry a nd talking with govern ment people. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Ivan Wellington and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Ivan Wellington and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
them away on weekends to the local golf courses where we’d collect balls and sell them back to the players for a decent price. Some weekends we’d find anywhere between seven or eight hundred. It got them away from the fighting, breaking windows and thieving. The place was growing fast with lots of kids who needed direction so we started thinking about starting up a mentoring program. That’s when I began serving as a mentor for the Department of Human Services, along with a few managers. I then teamed up with a Catholic nun, Sister Kelly, who I’m still working with today. We do a lot of work on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Campbelltown and Bankstown in partnership with UWS. What we’re doing is helping them to hold on to and respect their culture. I go deep into it, I connect with them and start with them from the deep end. We’ve had some great results with Aboriginal kids from all over the Sydney basin. We’re doing it by motivating them and promoting their own cultures, to further their education into their clans and where they come from. That’s how I became an Elder on Campus at UWS. The people that held the knowledge before me heard about the work that I
do, going into the detention centres and giving those boys a different direction, but also holding on and keeping their culture. I carry it into the schools, into the mainstream with Sister Kelly, helping people who are struggling with their lives. They are coming through, the light is shining, and they’ll be role models for others down the track. The first thing I ever heard about UWS was that they were giving scholarships to kids that come from the country, that these kids were coming down to be doctors and teachers. What I picked up on was that there was a need for a person who represented Aboriginal peoples working there. I love seeing kids get ahead in life - it’s a passion of mine. Whoever the kid is he’ll be given everything I know of my culture, what is right from wrong, and I’ll tell that kid which is the right path he should travel, to walk and talk. The first award that I ever got for my work was for intergenerational understanding of all cultures. I got those skills from my family, from my elders on the lands where I come from, but also from the many lands that I visited and I pass it on. It’s a privilege to help another human being progress and grow. UWS has given me an opportunity to do that for a lot of people. I believe that when you’re working with Aboriginal people you don’t rush things, you have to take the time to up build up trust and build up respect. You do it steady. You make it grow; it’s like planting a seed and seeing it grow, watching it grow. I get great satisfaction, I thrive on that. This is how I look at it: if you haven’t got a culture, if you haven’t got a language, you’re a lost nation, you’re a lost people. From day one, the Europeans got us wrong. They took our language away from us and disrespected our flora and fauna. That’s the day, that’s when we lost it. Until they recognise the divisional levels of all our peoples, and the many tribes, clans and mobs are recognised and respected, their lands and names respected, we won’t get them back.
Emeritus Chancellor, Mr John Phillips and Uncle Ivan Wellington
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It all starts from the land, our mother, and what this land meant to us. The rivers were pure, they had medicine and they had tucker in them, and most certainly the land did. Many native plants provided
not only food but bush medicines and were used for ceremonies. If we wanted tucker we knew where to get it, if we wanted medicine we knew where to go and get that, and if we had a death of someone in the family and we wanted something for ceremonial burials, or some perfumes, we knew where to get that too. It was all there in place, and what destroyed it was the clearing of the special places, the sacred sites and the land that was used to hold all of those belongings of the Aboriginal people. I think that it is important for all of us to know that there were people here before Europeans came.
Uncle Harry Allie. Aunty Zona Wilson and Dr Fabri Blackclock
ZONA WILKINSON About two years ago I was invited to become an Elder on Campus at the Werrington campus of the University of Western Sydney. We meet together regularly and we’re involved in decision making about things specific to employment and education, supporting staff and students and ensuring that we’re getting as many Koori kids through there as we can. Making sure they’re given equal opportunities and encouragement. I do it through the Penrith Gallery doing outreach with the schools, they come in here and we do workshops and we talk to them about it, and what they’re doing. We encourage them to at least try.
am a descended from the Gamilaraay and Wanaruah tribal clans.
I am now currently working as curator of Aboriginal programs at the Penrith Regional Gallery and Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre with the support of the team and Penrith City Council. I am also working in programs that involve things like sports and I support the community as a volunteer which has its challenges but seeing growth is rewarding. I have lived in this community for some time and grew my family in the area and now have two generations also doing volunteer work which is great.
MATILDA HOUSE You have to have education if you want the best for Aboriginal people and UWS are doing it in a fine way, and I’m very proud that I am being part of it. Hopefully it’ll encourage other Aboriginal people to step up a little bit more and do something more. The Elders on Campus program will be fantastic, doing that for the campus and for the students. Knowing that these kids are going to come up and talk to you, and start telling you their little stories of how they can do these things, that’s what makes you proud to be an elder, because you’re approachable, so it’s a good start to have something like that within this university.
y mother on her mother’s side comes from a little place not far from Yass, that was part of the Wollobooloola Parjong river. So, that’s her country, and her husband was Wiradjuri. My father’s side is Dernumbry of the Wogooloo people, and his mother’s people were part of the Wiradjuri as well. I grew up on two Aboriginal Missions. The one in Cowra was called Erambie Mission and was mission manager run, and the other one was a reserve in Yass, run by the Aboriginal Care and Protection. I’m the eldest of ten children and the extended family was very, very big. The time in Yass was spent growing up with grandparents, and in Cowra was spent growing up with my mother and father. So, in both ways they were very educational, very good. I started school on the Erambie Aboriginal Mission in Cowra. When that closed I went to a school in downtown Cowra. Then there were times when I had to go to Yass, to live with my grandparents, and I went to Mt Carmel in Yass. I liked learning. Sometimes you could be happy and sometimes not, because there was a lot of racism in schools in them days, especially
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in Cowra. By going to school every day you’re doing what your parents wanted you to do, not what white people didn’t want you to do. Whether there was racism or not you went to school because it’s what your parents wanted you to do, and I’m thankful for that. I had some really beautiful parents and grandparents. They were the biggest influence in my life: they were the people that made me who I am today. Life just was really good for me because I knew I was loved. The first job I got out of school was working in market gardens and orchards, picking prunes, cherries, oranges, tomatoes, beans, asparagus. It’s not whether you liked it or not. If you wanted to have a feed for you and your brothers and sisters you went to work. It was done because you loved your family and you wanted to help them. I met my husband when I was fruit picking, and so I got married and had our kids, two boys and two girls. They’re men and women now. When my youngest turned five I started work for the first Department of Aboriginal Affairs, in 1975. My role in there was working to help other Aboriginal people. It was hard but you persevered. I don’t know whether we’re better off for it or not but we seem to have a lot of high profile Aboriginal people. I see it a lot when I go to visit the Indigenous doctors, and come to places like this campus. It’s something that I’d be very proud of, if I was Melissa and other Aboriginal people that work here, because to see an Aboriginal flag flying in an educational place is something that you would never thought of, or dreamt would ever happen. Our children today can achieve anything they want to, by being who they are, not pretending about who they think they are. But you don’t have to use being an Aboriginal to get your education, because you are a human being and you just go for your life, and do what you have to do to make your life better. Don’t use the crutch as Aboriginal people tend to do a lot. If you believe in things and make them happen then you’ve dealt yourself a good card, because you’re doing something that’s going to linger on in your family life forever. You can do it whether you’re black, white or brindle.
My culture has always been a big part of my life. Growing up on those two Aboriginal missions and reserves, then living with my grandparents in Yass, I’ve had a pretty good knowledge given to me by them. Connections are what they are all over, no matter whether you’re Irish, English, African or whatever, it’s who you are, that’s your connection. I don’t like talking for the Aboriginal people because it will always be a better place, for everybody, if everybody makes a united stand. I’ve seen Australia become so united in ’71, ’72 and right up until ’88 and that united front was gold because people talked to each other. There was no hierarchy like there is today, where if a government wants to talk to someone, or deal with issues, they’ll go to a certain man or a certain woman. In those days it was always a united front, standing outside of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy or somewhere up there in Alice Springs; we were all united. At the end of the day it was for a purpose, a journey that still hasn’t ended. It all started off with land rights. When land rights had been denied for the people up at Wattie Creek, in Darwin, the people were working for flour and sugar and a little of tea, so they did a walk off. The people who owned the property took note of that, because the best stockmen in the world were not ever going to work for nothing again. So land rights were very strong in the Sixties, and it finally floated down in the early seventies and that’s when the tent embassy was being put up. That’s how people began to realise and acknowledge how other people, way up north, were being treated. So Aboriginal people were making their stand, to make sure that the future of Aboriginal people, Aboriginal Australia was going to be here; stronger than ever. Being there for the ‘Apology’ speech was a fantastic feeling, and it was a fantastic day, because you were meeting people who you grew up with, but who years ago were taken away. It was sad because a lot of their parents had died without knowing where they were, their brothers or sisters may have died before they knew where they had
gone to as well. The saddest part of it was that the effort was always being made by families to try and find families. But sometimes it just didn’t happen, books were closed by the government and families weren’t allowed to find each other for years and years. So when an apology came it meant you could square away the hurt, and it was very painful. It didn’t mean anything to the government but they use it now as a banner to say that they did right. But the apology didn’t mean that the wrong could be righted, because it can’t. These things, that really happened to children in the homes they were sent to, were horrific, so when you think about things like that it’s very sad. I hope it’s empowering them because I’m advocating the wellbeing of having strong families, better health and better education, and acknowledge the land of the people that we’re fighting for with native title. With the care and protection of our children, and making sure of the health and wellbeing of our people, our communities will be stronger and have a brighter future. That’s the hope. Having places like the University of Western Sydney gives it strength. The first step forward is to making sure this place will hold its part in history and push through as many Aboriginal people as possible, for a better future. You have to have education if you want the best for Aboriginal people. It’s up to themselves, it’s up to them to do it, to have it in their sights and say I want this child of mine to see that. The first time I’d heard about the Elders on Campus at UWS I thought it’s a great, grand way, and I’m very proud that I am being part of it. Hopefully it’ll encourage other Aboriginal people to step up a little bit more and do something more. The Elders on Campus program will be fantastic, doing that for the campus and for the students, because it’s the future that’s going to be looking after what the past has messed up. Knowing that these kids are going to come up and talk to you, and start telling you their little stories of how they can do these things, that’s what makes you proud to be an elder, because you’re approachable. You have an open door policy all the time because if you shut that door on somebody it could be the ruination of that person, so it’s a good start to have something like that within this university. For the young ones that are coming up, you’re going to be our leaders, you’re being trained and you’ve been put there to do the right thing for the future for all Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people. The education that you are receiving will always make sure that you can deal with it, the pain of the past, what others had to go through, in such a way that you make sure that it never happens again. Right: Photo courtesy of NTSCORP Ltd & Amanda James Photography.
RASME PRIOR A
unty Rasme has worked for both the Aboriginal Development Commission and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. Aunty Rasme has also undertaken volunteer work for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations. An accredited cross-cultural awareness trainer, Aunty Rasme is also a member of the Women’s Reconciliation Network NSW and runs her own cross cultural training consultancy
Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Aunty Rasme Prior and Photographer Belinda Mason.
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NORMA SHELLEY OAM A
unty Norma is a Kamilaroi woman who moved to Liverpool thirty-five years ago. A retired Social Studies and Textile and Design teacher, Aunty Norma now donates her time to local community groups, including the Cerebral Palsy Association, Aboriginal Carers, South West Sydney Koori Interagency, NSW Justice Association and Liverpool Council Aboriginal Consultative Committee. Aunty Norma is also a member of various committees associated with education and has been a board member for South West Sydney Community Transport for over ten years. Aunty Norma is a member of the Gundungara Land Council, the Heritage Committee and the Aboriginal Consultative Committee. Among the many prestigious awards for contributions to the community collected by Aunty Norma are Officer of the Order of Liverpool, Order of Australia Medal, The Premier’s Seniors Achievement Award, the Federal Government’s Seniors Achievement Award and Liverpool Citizen of the Year 2011. Aunty Norma has been included in ‘Who’s Who of Australian Women’ for the last seven years, received NSW Schools Nanga Mai Award celebrating excellence in Aboriginal Education and Training and also the Liverpool City Council ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award. In 2012, Aunty Norma received the University of Western Sydney Community Award.
Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Aunty Norma Shelley and Photographer Belinda Mason.
DR MARGARET WEIR I
was born Margaret Rose Williams. My great grandfather was Gumbaynggirr and my great grandmother was Malera Bundjalung. Both are from northern New South Wales but we’ve gone with the Malera Bundjalung people way, from the Grafton area. I’m one of ten children, and as the youngest life for me wasn’t very easy. I had to learn to stand up for myself. When I was about four or five my mother started my spiritual learning and my life changed. She told me that we came to earth for two reasons: one was to learn to be a better person and the other one was to do your job for God, which I call the sacred labour. The primary school I went to was about five or ten miles outside of Casino. There were about fifteen children across grades one to six and there was one teacher who taught all the grades. He taught us how to read and write and do basic math and never anything else. But I had my love of learning, and I knew that I wasn’t learning very much, so in grade 5 I used to sit out in the paddock, thinking I was talking to God, wondering what my job for God was, and I was told that I was going to go to university and be a teacher. Well, I knew that black people weren’t allowed in the profession and I raced in and said to my mother – ‘Mum, Mum, God said I’m going to go to university and be a teacher’ and Mum said ‘That can’t be right, black people aren’t allowed in university’ so I raced back out and had my meditation with God and I said – ‘Well you know that’s what Mum said.’ And the answer came back - ‘Who do you believe?’ and I thought ‘Right’ I know who I believe’. I was then told at school that I had to go into Casino to catch up on my work. I had to get into the top high school class because in those days you had to matriculate, you had to have a language, higher math, to get into university.
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
When I went to Casino Public School I was probably the only Aboriginal person in the school of five hundred. The teacher disliked me on sight and so I was sent to the back of the room and treated like a leper. But my view was I’m on a mission for God, I’m going to university, I’m going to be a teacher and whatever was handed to me I just handled it. In our first exam I came fifty-third out of a class of fifty-five, but at the end of the year I came seventeenth so I’d improved. When I went to high school I had a very supportive principal. He called me into his office and said ‘What class do you want to go in?’ and I said ‘I want to go into the AB class and learn French and Latin’ and he said ‘Well, we’ve never had a black child in there’ and I said ‘Well that’s where I want to go,’ and once I got my foot in the classroom door I wasn’t going to leave. I feel that the hand of God has been on my life and I have intuitively known what I need to learn and I’ve found the right people to help me. My school days there were a great help because there wasn’t racism among the girls, and I was very popular because I was good at sports. I was captain of the field hockey team, which was a big deal, and I was a prefect. I was just doing what I wanted to do. Then I matriculated and told my mother: ‘Mum I’m going to university’ and she said ‘We’ve got no money’ and I said ‘Well that’s okay, God said the moneys coming’ and she said ‘Well, where is it’ and I said ‘I don’t know but it’ll get here.’ The money did come. At the end of January I got an Aboriginal scholarship and I went to the University of Queensland for one year. There was a lot publicity around it because I was the first Aboriginal student to attend a full-time university course, so it was a big deal. I was doing Arts, which wasn’t really what I was interested in, so I decided I’d change courses and go to the University of Melbourne
to become a Physical Education teacher. I got into University Women’s College which gave me a free place in college and I had my Aboriginal scholarship, so off I went and it was marvellous. It was at a great course and I finished that ’59 and started teaching. I’ve been fighting for Aboriginal issues all my life, and when I was in the University of Queensland my sisters and I started up an all Aboriginal Women’s Hockey team and we played in the town competition. Then when the University hockey team played in the town competition I asked the girls – ‘What do you want me to do? Do you want me to keep playing with you or should I go play with the university?’ Being the first Aboriginal person to go to university was my underlying reason for the question. Do I make my presence felt in other areas of university, rather than just in studying, and everybody said ‘You must play for the university’, because then people will know that Aboriginals will know that ‘You’re there’. So, that’s what I did, and in the August holidays we went on a tour from Sydney to Melbourne to Adelaide, stopping off at universities on the way. Melbourne University was fantastic. I was in University Women’s College which was the college, and here I am, a little black girl in this great place. It was such a wonderful, free feeling. I was in with the children of the high flyers, Prime Minister Menzies’ niece was there, the Lord Mayor’s daughter was there. You know, the wealthy, the elite of not only Melbourne society but Tasmanian society and Canberra society, because in those days if you wanted to get Post Graduate courses you had to go to the University of Melbourne. So it was ‘the’ place to be, to learn about how the other half lived. Having graduated from the University of Melbourne the world was there for me. My mother had always said get an education and you can do anything, go anywhere, be anything, and she was right because having that qualification opened up the world for me and
Dr Margaret Weir at the 2013 Honorary Doctorate Ceremony for Aunty Mae Robinson.
First recorded Aboriginal to graduate from an Australian University. Dr Margaret Weir graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1959.
because apart from anything else, Canada had the only defence force in the entire world with equal pay, equal treatment for men and women. Some other countries still haven’t caught up with that. I was in the Navy from 1966 to 1969 and then I met my husband. I was intending to come back to Australia but being married I stayed on for another nine years. After that we thought well ‘We’re getting older, the snow is getting higher’ and we came back to Australia. We both joined the Commonwealth Teaching Service and we were posted to a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory where we spent four and a half years. Bill Weir and Dr
I spent twenty years teaching in Australia, England and Canada. The big thing about travelling was that I was out from the cloud of racism that exists in Australia, and I was able to have the freedom to be who I am. When people met me they took me for who I was, for what I was. It was great to develop and grow. I’ve always had a great sense of responsibility to the planet, I’ve never been just a little girl who grew up in northern New South Wales I’ve been a daughter of the planet. I believe it’s because I’ve always kept an eye on world events. My mother was right into unions and politics. We voted, our family voted at a time when black people weren’t allowed the vote. When the sixties came along and people were saying ‘Oh black people aren’t allowed to vote’ we’d say ‘Oh well, that’s news to us, we’ve been voting all our lives’. We were brought up with a social conscience of politics, and our social responsibilities to our fellow Aborigines, the country as a whole, people as a whole. So I believe that you have to know how to defend your country. When I was in Canada the time seemed right to do that and I decided to join the military. I chose the Canadian Navy,
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
Canada has got to be the cleanest place on earth, so coming from Canada to Yuendumu was a shock; we could hardly believe our eyes. You had people walking around in rags, very few people wore shoes, and in some of the camps you had two hundred people sharing one tap with no bathroom. It was really bad Third World conditions, but the people were so resilient and so happy. They’re some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. All of us worked so very, very hard to make things better, healthcare wise, education wise, just the basic services for the people. Slowly, year by year, it’s improving. Now they even have pay phones in place. It was a wonderful experience. We travelled a lot and we learned their ways, their survival techniques. After that I took a leave of absence and rested up. Then my husband saw this job in the paper for Aboriginal Education Coordinator for the Australian Education Union so I applied and went to work in Canberra for the next three years. I had to liaise with the state and territory labour councils and Aboriginal Education Committees, so I learned all about unions and politics, the way they really worked, and how each state and territory does things. Talk about a marvellous learning. After I finished with the Australian Teachers Federation I was absolutely burned out and I needed a break, so I took three years off to concentrate on my spiritual learning and it was fantastic. During
this time we went all over India, to Nepal, Kathmandu and Bangkok. This was very interesting higher spiritual learning over there. When I came back from India I got on with my spiritual learning. I also took on a research job with a national Aboriginal education committee, to provide the Aboriginal input into the Australian National Girls policy, and deliver the foundation paper as the basis of the National Aboriginal Education Policy for them. Then a friend of mine, who was about seventy, finished his Bachelors, Masters and PhD and I thought, well if he can do that so can I. So I went back to university, the University of New England and I got an Honours Research Masters Degree, after which I did my PhD. I then went into Education and Military research, and served as the national coordinator of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans and Ex-service Persons Association for the next six years. Having finished my spiritual and post graduate training I set up my own business doing research projects for various education departments and government departments. Then my husband retired in 2007, so we left Canberra and moved to Grafton. I’m an active member of my local South Grafton RSL sub-branch and I do various education stints and lectures. I’m also a member of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander post graduate PhD forum. At the moment we have about 168 Aboriginal PhDs, so we’re making progress. That’s mainly my life. It’s a life story built on honouring God, learning more about God’s laws, going where God sends me and learning to be a better person, helping the communities wherever I am and doing the best I can.
STEVE WILLIAMS I
am a member of the Wiradjuri people and use my art to share our culture with local communities. I completed a degree in Fine Arts and hold Aboriginal art workshops which include several mural projects. I established the first Artisan Shed in Liverpool where I am a long-time resident and community volunteer of the Liverpool area. I was recognised for these efforts and contributions volunteering for government and non-government agencies and community groups such as Strong Fathers, Strong Families which engages Aboriginal men with their community and encourages them to be positive role models. In 2014 my efforts were recognised by Liverpool Council when I was named Citizen of the Year at a ceremony at Woodward Park on Australia Day. I conduct smoking ceremonies at community events and featured in Christine Anu’s My Island Home clip and was involved in the ABC’s animated series The Dreaming Stories.
Above and right: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Steve Williams and Photographer Sally Tsoutas
AUNTY DHANGGAL GURRUWIWI, AUNTY MILMINYINA DHAMARRANDJI & AUNTY DJARPIRRI MUNUNGGURRITJ
Dhanggal Gurruwiwi comes from an island off the coast of Arnhem Land. She has a deep knowledge about Yolngu history. She used to teach at schools in Yirrkala and Gali’winku. Nowadays her main activity is painting, but she still does some interpreting work for hospitals, police and courts. UWS staff and students have been coming to visit me at the GARMA event for many years. They come from different areas of study such as Social, Sciences, Education, Business and Heath and immerse themselves in the events of GARMA. It is wonderful to see how the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students join in and celebrate with us as well as take away new learnings and understanding of our culture. The staff, from the University, come to support the students and are equally involved in the festival and learning experience. Milminyina Dhamarrandji comes from Wirrwawuy, near Yirrkala and Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula, at the very North Eastern tip of the Northern Territory. She is the daughter of Gumatj woman Rrirraliny Yunupingu, and granddaughter of famous artist and political figure Mungurrawuy Yunupingu. Her märi, or mother’s mother’s clan, is Rirratjingu, the landowners of Yirrkala. Djarpirri Mununggurritj is a Yolgnu elder; a strong woman with a deep commitment to her people. She is currently working with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs as an Indigenous Engagement Officer and is a trailblazer in the political arena. Djapirri was instrumental in establishing the Yirrkala Women’s Patrol which saw Aboriginal elders walk the streets late at night to successfully deal with domestic violence, alcohol and other community safety issues. In 2011 she received the Northern Territory Australia’s Local Hero Award. Right: Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
AUNTY DHANGGAL GURRUWIWI
ll my family are from the Yolngu mob and come from north east Arnhem Land. My father, Monyu, is from the Galpu clan nation and my mother, Bakutju, is from the Gumatj nation. Her mother’s mother’s clan nation was Rirratjaingu. My father had seven wives and my mother was his third, so I was surrounded by lots of brothers and sisters, uncles, aunties, cousins and grandparents. I was born and grew up in a mission community, established by Harold Shepherdson, on Galiwinku Island in the Arafura Sea. We all lived in houses we built ourselves using local Cypress Pines, cut at the sawmill and built by the missionaries. Our house was small and overcrowded, and everybody slept on the floor. We cooked outside on an open fire. All the houses had water taps and electricity, which was on from around six or seven in the evening and turned off at ten o’clock at night. In those days my father and the other families would go off hunting, fishing and catching turtles for food. And later my brothers worked on the fishing boats, so the community always had plenty of fish to eat. There was also the community store, run by the Methodists, which sold things like flour and tinned food. I went to school on the mission, which had all the grades together from primary to secondary. I went to school until Year 11 and really enjoyed it – I don’t think I missed a day of school. All the children I went to school with were Aboriginal until we moved to another area and I went to what is now called Shepherdson College. I was there until Year 7 before being sent to boarding school at Kormilda College, in Darwin, from 1969 through to 1974, where I finished my schooling. After that I went to Yirrkala, to be with my mother and her family’s nation, and started my first job as a clerical assistant, which I did for about four years. The local school was looking for new recruits so I went to Batchelor College to do teacher training. After two years I went back to that school and taught primary school children for three years. I then returned to teach at Galiwinku until I retired in 1995, when I decided it was time to do something different. During that time I got married and had three children, who are all now grown up and have children of their own. I now live in a house at Wallaby Beach, way up on the north western part of the Gulf of Carpentaria, looking out at the Arafura Sea. I spend my time with my grandchildren and doing various jobs. I am a board member of the Yothu Yindi Foundation and am involved with organising the annual Gama Festival of Traditional Culture. It encourages understanding of our traditional dances, songs, art and ceremonies, and people come here to learn about our traditional painting, medicines, bush tucker and hunting.
They’re looking to find out more about their own culture and their pasts. I help convey that knowledge, to everybody, not just Aboriginals. I also do painting, when I have the time, in the traditional style as well as in my mother’s and grandmother’s styles. I do a lot of interpreting work with hospitals, police and courts. My native language has thirty-two dialects, and I speak them all. We all speak our language in the home, at our ceremonies and whatever. It’s still strong. The kids speak the language as well, every day, aside from school where they speak English. I also work at the Charles Darwin University, teaching the language through reading and conversation. The students read a sentence, paragraph or a page and I correct their pronunciation or explain the meanings of words they didn’t understand. The other work I do is with the Department of Corrections, with the Elders Visiting Program, in Darwin and Alice Springs. We have set up work camps in the Barkley region, down in Tennant Creek, and the one I work at here is called the Datjala Work Camp. They are places where low security prisoners can be released from prison and sent to work, learn skills and find jobs so they can return to the communities they came from. We visit them in prison and gather them in their community groups, sit them down and talk with them. We talk about what our responsibilities are back in the community, the rules and cultural side of our lives. We try to return them home as the person they’re supposed to be, instead of what they were – doing what got them into prison, like drug and alcohol abuse. We’re very pleased with the results and getting very positive feedback from their communities. My association with UWS goes back a long way, and began through the family. Years before she became Vice-Chancellor of UWS, Professor Janice Reid was an anthropologist who visited my people on a study tour. She arrived knowing my Aunty’s name, and through her met my mother, sisters and two grandmothers. She was a quiet, well-spoken person and they liked her a lot, so they adopted her. She became an adopted sister of my mother, which makes her my adopted mother. Since then I’ve spoken several times at the UWS Yarramundi Lectures, and worked with the University, sharing our people’s knowledge, language and culture with them. To this day Djapirri Mununggirritj and I continue to provide cultural consultations in various corporate organisations and continue to provide cultural exchanges with the University of Western Sydney through their visiting Elders on Campus program.
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
DARRYL WRIGHT Our partnership, between the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and the UWS School of Medicine, is about building relationships and creating harmony. We do work with them, we go and talk to the kids, we have medical students come here and they work in the community program. Next year we’ll have three hundred students coming through there. We’re doing some wonderful stuff together.
’m Darryl Wright from the Dunghutti tribe of the Macleay Valley area in Kempsey, along the mid north coast of NSW, between the tribal boundaries of the Biripi, the Anaiwan and the Gumbaynggirr tribes. I was born into a large family of fourteen, with me being in the middle. I was told that I was a very sickly child during my early weeks. It was decided that my grandparents would take me to look after me, which meant that I would live with them at Bellbrook Aboriginal reserve on the Nulla Nulla creek some thirty miles west of Kempsey.
school breaks that my grandfather would take us into the bush to work which resulted in walking long distances into the bush. Another activity was going fishing with all the aunties and grandmothers from dawn to dark, very long hours and coming home with all the fish. Another fishing experience included my two uncles, one who could swim under water for long periods and spear the fish while the other walked along the edges of the creek and speared fish with a long spear. Both of them were always sure of coming home with plenty of fish to share.
I can clearly remember life on the reserve as a young man with lots of cousins, and other children to play with. Our house on the reserve was always full because my grandparents took in other children from other families for various reasons. People were always coming to stay, and grandmother and I seemed to be always visiting other houses, helping sick people, and looking after other Elders from our community.
During my primary school years on the reserve, when in attendance at school after being in hospital, I will never forget the experiences from being ill-treated by the teacher saying that the Welfare was coming to take the children away. I will also never forget at school playing or down at the creek swimming my grandfather would warn everyone with his loud whistle that the welfare were at the reserve. We were always told by our parents to run into the bush and stay there until dark. This scenario took place quite often. It was during this time that I became aware of my grandmother being taken as a young girl and transferred to the girls home in Cootamundra, south western NSW. The stories coming from her experience are unbelievable not forgetting her transfer into slavery, working as a maid with white families, and not getting remunerated for it. This experience was also witnessed by me with my grandfather in bush work. On completion of work the property owners denyed him his remuneration but allowed him to receive rations from the white managers who also controlled our reserves. Even with these things happening I’ve never witnessed either of my grandparents talk about anyone in a wrongful manner.
My grandfather was always active, working in the bush, so we spent a great deal of time there, fishing, hunting and working. I had a great life, and a happy one. Often all the children would join our uncles to play football, rounders, cricket it was so active. Our family had roosters, hens and sometimes after little joey’s that people had brought to our house after hunting. Horses also played a very big part of our lives, as our men were known to be great stockmen in their time. The other important thing was that my granddad often took us young ones into the bush and taught us about our culture - the plants, the stories, the animals etc. We were made to work on the reserve milking the cows, morning and afternoon. Another chore, including collecting, would be the fire and carting water from the creek for various reasons. I spent a lot of time, when young in the Kempsey hospital during my primary school period missing out on education. It was during the
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
My high school years were spent travelling by bus from Bellbrook Reserve to Kempsey which was about one and a half hours away. In most classes there were no teachers available so we cleaned up the school grounds; while my stay at Kempsey High School was only two years it was there that I really became aware of the term ‘Stolen Generation’. It was here that I witnessed firsthand the
damage that was done to our young men, as Kinchella Boys Home boys attended Kempsey High School. I made friends with some of the boys, but it was difficult with others. As an Aboriginal person, I could not believe that they thought that they were not, but sadly I became aware of the harsh treatment that was handed out by the management at the boys home. I have also witnessed firsthand the difficulties the young men were facing in the outside world after leaving the home. Just about all of the boys I befriended all turned to drugs and alcohol and most of them have now died from their problems or have committed suicide. From this experience I can now see why my grandmother went out of her way to help any family who faced some difficulties and took other children who faced the problem of being taken by ‘the Welfare’. Without a proper education I remember very clearly the basic things that I was taught by both my grandparents and how important those things are to me today. I am more honoured with some of the short quotes both of my grandparents taught me, they help me today in trying to survive such a difficult society.
These photographs are of my fa mily. They are my son Lachlan, daughters Marilyn and Miah, my youngest. The boys are Kaidyn, Jai and Marli at various ages. The youngsters are my grandchildren Kalea and Jalen. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Darryl Wright and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Uncle Darryl Wright and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
Things like: • Never use the word “I” but it is better to use the word “we” (bringing people together) • Always get up and out of your bed and smile as it breaks down a lot of barriers • Never think that you are better than anyone else, because there is always others who want to knock you down • When doing things for other people, always take the extra step, to finish what you started • If you want respect be respectful to others • In whatever you think always put yourself last, you will feel better • Never be selfish in what you do or what you think Work ethic: • Always be seen • Open door policy • Make people welcome • Encourage people to complete Today I get a lot of pleasure out of • Spending time and being active with my family • Working in my community and helping others benefit from my experiences • Getting involved with difficult things, challenges are great for the blood flow • It is important to listen to people
Uncle Darryl Wright and Jo Galea
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
I was one who looked for challenges in life excelling in working out difficult issues and helping people who had problems and working with them and having great outcomes in their life. My long term work was based on this philosophy, going into communities and working to face to face with others and Elders in particular. My philosophy on being successful is based on our ancestors and my grandparents who always wanted to a success at what you do, finish the job properly and be proud of it. I also believe that our community want to see changes, as changes inspire people, as Ancestors when they went hunting they had to be successful hunters of their family and community would starve from no food. It’s a simple strategy to success and finally another strategy I work on is team building with philosophies based on coaching where you analyse your staff their draw up your strategies (work plan,) give them support (coaching) with further assistance in training (if needed) or suitable position, be it on the field or at work, but ensuring open communication is at the front and close monitoring and support. Finally I want to say, the number one thing is life is, I am a proud Aboriginal man and it’s always in my mind that people are always watching me, so be careful what you say and what you do. At every opportunity I remind staff to always have an open mind, think creatively letting your thoughts flow like the wind.
BIOGRAPHIES & PORTRAITS Leaders and Pathmakers
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
PEARL WYMARRA My long and cherished association with UWS began way back in 1977 when I applied for mature age entry to Nepean College of Advanced Education, which is now the UWS Penrith campus. I graduated with a Diploma of Primary Teaching in 1980. Then in 1990 I came back to Penrith to support my daughter who had started her teacher training at UWS. I was able to get a position here when UWS Macarthur employed me as a trainee coordinator of the Social Welfare students in the Aboriginal Rural Education Program. In 1992, I was appointed to a new position at UWS Hawkesbury, where I was in charge of the Wyung Indigenous Aboriginal Education Unit until 1999. In 2000 UWS made me an Honorary Fellow and a year later I returned for a short time as the Acting Director of the Aboriginal Centre. As an Honorary Fellow, I am invited to graduation ceremonies and I also make myself available to support the Elders on Campus.
y family story on my father’s side are the Gudang people of Far Northern Cape York Peninsula. His mother was called Wandihnu and his father was a Scotsman, Jack McLaren, who lived among our people in the early 1900s. My mother’s family roots, on her father’s side, are from somewhere at Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory and her mother was from Borroloola in Queensland. My mother’s parents were children of the Stolen Generation because of their mixed race of Aboriginal, Irish, Filipino and Indonesian. There has always been so much talk about Aboriginal identity and I explain mine this way. I identify as Aboriginal and I tell my family story by saying I grew up on Thursday Island, where I was socialised in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and in the ways of other cultures, so my socialisation has been very multicultural. I grew up with my parents’ people and at the same time, we were part of the extended family groupings from Thursday Island itself, so we connected with everybody. I tell young people to know their story, get it right in your heart, balance it in your mind and develop the language to express it. This is the way to enable us to hold our own within our own identified group and outside it. Our father met our mother when he worked for the Presbyterian Church, delivering supplies by boat to their missions at Weipa, Aurukun, Mapoon and Mornington Island. I was born in 1945 at Mapoon on the west coast of Cape York. Our parents, two older brothers and I moved from Mapoon to Thursday Island when I was only a few months old. Thursday Island was where I lived until the age of fifteen when I left there for Charters Towers to attend Blackheath College, a Presbyterian and Methodist Girls boarding school. Seven more children were born on Thursday Island so our family grew to twelve with Mum, Dad and ten children. We lived in a corrugated iron house, no insulation, just iron roof, walls and wooden frames, with two big verandas – one at the front and one
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
at the back with a kitchen was attached. In the middle were the bedrooms and a family room. I recently found out from a long time resident of Thursday Island, that our house may have been used by the army during the war to ensure the safety of the Japanese men working as pearl divers. About my name – my brother tells me that it is connected to a family from Saint Pauls Island where our father spent some time training as an Anglican priest when he was young. Our father also told me that before he married Mum, he worked as the skipper of a pearling lugger and one night when they were all sitting on the deck having a cuppa, he told his crew that when he married he would call his first daughter Pearl. I liked that story. When our mother wasn’t raising us, she helped the Presbyterian Church ministry on Thursday Island and did laundry for the men working on the pearl culture farm on Friday Island. She also worked in the prawn factory on Thursday Island. I grew up during the Protection era in Aboriginal history, when people had to live on missions. Then with the Assimilation policy, because of the work he did, my dad was given the ‘free paper’ or ‘dog licence’ (as it was known in NSW), that ‘allowed’ him to send his children to the state school on Thursday Island. Kids whose parents didn’t have the free paper went to the ‘coloured’ school, which was the term used in those days for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who were still ‘under the act.’ In those days, as an Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander with a ‘free paper’ or ‘under the act’ we had to sit at the picture show in the open air on hard park benches. We couldn’t sit under cover in the back seats, in the canvas deck chairs. We couldn’t go upstairs, where all the Europeans and business people from other cultures would sit. There was that fine line of segregation at the picture theatre. That’s a similar story all over Australia in those days. I can remember there were times when I had resentment inside, knowing that we were the bottom rung of the ladder and on
This is my fa mily home on Thursday Island, where I grew up with my nine brothers and sisters, along with regular visitors. It had four big rooms a lounge and fa mily room. There was no lining just corrugated iron. I believe that historical records of the island mention that the building had been used as hospital for Japanese people during the war. I stayed there right up until I left for boarding school at fifteen and a half. The water tank provided us with running water along with the occasional frog. The man in the cap is my father. He worked for the Marine Department at the time, as a skipper of a tender boat that used to go out the ships anchored in the harbour, as well as transporting doctors and nurses around the region, and taking people out on fishing trips. The photo was taken by the Harbour Master who was an a mateur photographer, and he sent it to me a few years ago as a memento of those times. The two women are my mother and Aunty Ryder. The photo was taken in the Sixties, on one of our ca mping holidays in Cape York. Right: 2014 Mixed Work Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Pearl Wymarra and Photographer Belinda Mason. Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Pearl Wymarra and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
reflection we, who identified as Aboriginal, were not even on the first ‘rung’ in the eyes of others. We were seen as not as good as the other people. It was the systemic policy that was in place that put the boundaries in where you were accepted, officially and socially. However, it’s the way we dealt with that which helped us survive and maintain our sense of dignity, strength and resilience. Our parents raised us to just believe that no matter what, we were as good as anyone else. What happened inside our house was where I first saw the model of unconditional love. Our parents taught us humanity and that transcends everything. After high school I worked between Thursday Island and Brisbane. I also became involved with OPAL (One People of Australia League), an organisation set up by Senator Bonner in Brisbane. I was part of the Younger Set. So I became involved in supporting the poor and helping people, especially those who lived in South Brisbane. Part of the attraction was being able to mix with other Aboriginal people in the city, but what really drove me to be involved was my passion for social justice. Charlie Perkins called into one of our functions during his Freedom Rides. I was brought up with the Christian faith which strengthened me to stand my ground and follow my chosen life path. It’s automatically part of my DNA. Living on the Thursday Island our isolation made us try harder to get on with one another. We were all in the same boat, and if we didn’t form good relationships with each other, even amongst all the social and political divisions, then we wouldn’t survive. I was brought up to value family and community, to always bear your own burdens, not to worry people with your problems, to love others, to follow the teachings of the Gospels. I learned to read through old magazines like the Women’s Weekly, (sent in mission bags from the mainland.) and comics. The Bible was the only book we had in our house. People think the Bible is only one book but it’s a library of books and stories, and I learnt from all of them. My first real paid job was working during my school holidays for the Department of Native Affairs. I also did various other jobs around Brisbane and on Thursday Island. I met my first husband on Thursday Island. We married in 1966 and made our home in Penrith and raised our two children, Rodney and Cheryl.
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In 1977 I applied for mature age entry to Nepean College of Advanced Education, which is now the UWS Penrith campus. My husband and children were supportive of my application. I was accepted and graduated with a Diploma of Primary Teaching in 1980. My first job was at Braddock Primary School, a newly established primary school in Cranebrook. At that time the Aboriginal Education Policy was launched and they needed trained Aboriginal teachers to support the different programs in the regions and at the state office. I worked in a part-time position in the Metropolitan West Region with another education consultant, then in a fulltime position in the aboriginal education Unit in Sydney. In 1986 I became the first full-time aboriginal education consultant in the Metropolitan West Region. This was the time I learnt about the original Aboriginal custodians, the Darug people. It was from a booklet called Aborigines of Western Sydney, which was produced through Nepean CAE. Together with Aboriginal education Assistants, Teachers and Aboriginal Students, we developed a Social Studies Unit, with the question, ‘Who were the people who lived in the area before 1788?’ The program was launched and distributed in the Department of Education’s Metropolitan West Regional schools. In 1989 I left the job and Penrith and went to live on Thursday Island and work in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, which later became the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). My son Rodney came to live with me on Thursday Island and he took his life in there 1990. I decided to return to Penrith to support my daughter Cheryl, because she had just started her teacher training at UWS. Thanks to supportive friends, I was able to get a position at UWS. In May 1990, UWS Macarthur employed me as a trainee coordinator of the Social Welfare students in the Aboriginal Rural Education Program. The position helped me heal, it was a new path. The Aboriginal students, Aboriginal and Non Aboriginal staff in the program were very supportive and we developed good, mutually respectful relationships and became a very strong caring and close community. In 1992, a position was created at UWS Hawkesbury, my application was successful and I worked there in charge of the Indigenous
Australian Education Unit until 1999. In 2000 UWS made me an Honorary Fellow and in 2001, during a critical time for UWS, I returned for a short time as the Acting Director of the Aboriginal Centre. As an Honorary Fellow, I have been invited to graduation ceremonies. My association with the University of Western Sydney is a long and cherished story and I reflected much on this when I graduated with a Masters in Health Science (Primary Health Care). I am impressed with their Aboriginal Employment Strategy and Generations of Knowledge program. The Elders on Campus invited me to meet with them and I have assured them of my support for their vision and of my availability to help in any way. In my time working at UWS, I appreciated the respect both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students and staff showed me and how they willingly joined in as we contributed our voices together in the circle around our symbolic campfires. The student bodies and academics supported the work we did through the Aboriginal Unit and The University of Western Sydney became a ‘belonging and healing place’ for me. I wish to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to UWS for their leadership in recognising and respecting the contribution that Aboriginal people have made to education as a whole, inside and outside institutions. UWS is to be commended for this and my prayer is that they be given the necessary support in every way and always to further develop the vision into the future as they continue the journey of ‘Bringing Knowledge to Life’. Penrith has become for me a place I can now call home. My children were raised here. My daughter Cheryl and husband Shane are raising their children, Rhiannon and Daniel, in Penrith. I have lived for forty-eight years in this community and I am committed to continue to work together with people of all cultural backgrounds in the area. We can make a difference if we work collaboratively and in mutually respectful relationships, valuing what everybody brings to the table as no one person has the answers – we all have some of it. This way we will make it a better place of belonging for the future generations. This includes all our children, young people and families from all cultural backgrounds and ways of life, who are here now and all those yet to come to live, work and call Penrith, ‘home’.
SHIRLEY GILBERT My association with UWS began years ago when I did my degree in Agricultural Science. After graduating I went to work for the Department of Agriculture. One of the things that attracted me back to UWS in 2003 is that Aboriginal education was undertaken seriously here. They had an Aboriginal core unit that was for all students who were entering the teaching profession. Many of the staff are committed to working with Aboriginal students who want to pursue a career in Aboriginal teacher education. I teach in history and Aboriginal studies and I’m also Co-overseas Professional Experience Co-ordinator, so I’ve been able to take students from UWS to Malaysia, China and Thailand, to not only share Aboriginal history but to also experience working in low socio-economic settings, to build the capacity of all teachers in understanding disadvantage, so they’re more effective when they go to work in Aboriginal communities. Doing my PhD is about how I have managed to maintain my identity in my Aboriginal working life. Here in the School of Education people are being much more supportive of Aboriginal issues and Aboriginal knowledge and including it in their courses. I have always felt that my culture’s safe here and I’m not having to validate who I am.
Above and right: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Shirley Gilbert and Photographer Sally Tsoutas
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
am Gunditjmara, on my mother’s side, from Lake Condah Mission in Victoria. My father’s white, and was born in Marrickville in Sydney. My mum was one of thirteen, so we had quite a few aunts and uncles. My father was quite good at getting us to connect up with the Aboriginal side of our family. I grew up in Sydney, in Bondi, when Bondi wasn’t what it is today. The first house we lived in was shared with about 10 other families. It was a great big house in Rose Bay and we lived in the dining room. The owner rented out all of the rooms and we shared the kitchen and bathroom facilities. I knew that we were poor because there was often not a lot of food around, especially in the evenings. We also shared the bathroom and there was no running hot water, and I remember putting a penny in the copper so that we could have gas to boil the hot water for the bath. We didn’t have a car, so we walked to school. I went to primary school in Rose Bay and then to the local high school. I don’t remember any other Aboriginal kids at primary school but at high school there were five of us. It was the end of the era when welfare officers came around to check on Aboriginal kids. They wanted to sight us, to see how we were going in our studies and other things. It was a real intrusion; it felt pretty much like a police state. Looking back, though, I think the education was really good. It gave me some strong foundations. There were certainly teachers who cared, particular my HSIE teacher who really cared for me in my situation, being Aboriginal. She took me to the clothing store, and probably out of her own money, brought me the senior school blazer, so that I would look like everyone else and have that leadership role. A decade later I actually worked with her at the Board of Studies, so it was quite an amazing turnaround. At school I had been on the Ministerial Advisory Board, and the Youth Advisory Board for Aboriginal kids and that encouraged me
to pursue my Aboriginality, whereas my father questioned why I was doing it. He’d say, ‘You know you could pass for non-Aboriginal.’ And I could. But I’m Aboriginal; I know who I am. That really came through my aunty who taught me about our family history and our Aboriginality. I have fifty-two first cousins on my Aboriginal side who all look different – dark, light, red haired, freckles – so I learnt very early that physical appearance defining who you were and how you feel was in white people’s heads. To us colour’s never been the issue, it’s about how you feel and where your family is from. So I’ve always been very strong. I’ve had some amazing mentors who gave me an enormous amount of personal time, gave me private tuition, and who pushed me really hard, to do better. Interestingly, most of us who came from that poverty area have all gone onto higher education and become doctors and nurses, psychologists, lawyers, teachers – lots of teachers. We had some pretty profound teachers back then. Five of them went on to be high fliers in the Department of Education or in the Board of Studies. My Aunty Eunice was at UWS at the same time as me and followed me on my journey. She did nursing, as an older Aboriginal woman, in the Aboriginal Rural Education Nursing Program. I used to tutor her in her science units and she tutored me in my Aboriginality, in who I was. On her holidays she’d go back to the mission in Victoria and bring back stories for us, to make connections to our blood lines. She was not only doing nursing, she was unpacking our family tree for all of us. The first time I applied to do Agricultural Science at UWS they rejected me because they weren’t sure I really understood what was required. So I went back to TAFE and did a farm technology course, excelled at that, applied again the next year and got in. I had a scholarship from the Department of Agriculture so my first job after uni was with them as a livestock officer. But I had a car
accident and couldn’t lift a thing, so the job was just too taxing on my injuries and that was the end of my career in agriculture. I then found an Aboriginal employment office job with South Sydney Council. I wanted it because it was an Aboriginal job. Through a cousin I spent a lot of time in various Aboriginal support organisations, and we went to see a lot of bands in Redfern, so I gravitated towards hanging out with the mob. That fulfilled our voids in our Aboriginality, having grown up with whites. I was now working with peers, becoming an Aboriginal mentor and tutor. I then worked at the Board of Studies and taught at the UNSW Aboriginal Research and Resource Centre. After that I did an Aboriginal Graduate Certificate in adult education at UTS and now I’m back here, working at UWS and doing my PhD. I now have the opportunity go to Elliott, in the Northern Territory, and work with Aunty Heather, teaching Aboriginal kids in Jingili and Wombaya language and culture, and mentoring their young career teachers. We’ve accelerated literacy and got kids to embrace language, both English and Jingili. Being proud of their Aboriginality is important but so is being multilingual. I now live in Penrith, near the Kingswood campus, but before that I lived in a hostel for Aboriginal boys, so I went home from my day job and helped them with their homework and running the hostel. I grew up poor and don’t forget where I came from, so this is community payback for the privileges and benefits I’ve reaped from education. Culture and being able to say you’re Aboriginal, knowing who you are and who you’re connected to, is really important. Teaching kids how to access their own history and their own identity is crucial. For most kids in Western Sydney, their culture’s something they know little about. Their traditions and roles and responsibilities in community, and respect around elders, who do you call an aunty and an uncle? What are their stories, their family’s blood-lines? But there’s nobody there to help them on the journey.
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
Doing my PhD is about how I have managed to maintain my identity in my Aboriginal working life. Although it was in very much an urban setting, my family are pretty strong in who we are and who we’re connected too. Here in the School of Education people are being much more supportive of Aboriginal issues and Aboriginal knowledge and are including it in their courses. I have always felt that my culture’s safe here and I’m not having to validate who I am. I think that institutions of learning, the teaching profession, don’t necessarily accommodate for differences in young people. I call it the sausage factory. It’s a social construct that’s totally embedded in what institutions are about. You’ve got to move the institutions, the profession, in a way that’s going to make them work for the student. One of the things that attracted me back to UWS in 2003 is that Aboriginal education was undertaken seriously here. They had an Aboriginal core unit that was for all students who were entering the teaching profession. I think they were ahead of the game, with a much more realistic expectation, because of where they were placed in Western Sydney and its large population of Aboriginal students. It had a bigger Aboriginal education footprint. Many of the staff are committed to working with Aboriginal students who want to pursue a career in Aboriginal teacher education. They’re very supportive of those students. I teach in history and Aboriginal studies and that’s making me happy. I’m also Co-overseas Professional Experience Co-ordinator, so I’ve been able to take students from UWS to Malaysia, China and Thailand, to not only share Aboriginal history but to also experience working in low socio-economic settings, to build the capacity of all teachers in understanding disadvantage, so they’re more effective when they go to work in Aboriginal communities.
I have a connection with this place. It’s almost like I’ve come full circle and come home. I’ve been a student; I’ve gone out and worked in various settings. I’ve reinvented myself a couple of times. It’s not about the money, it’s identify and satisfaction. I think it’s going to take a long time for any institution, not just a university, to understand the complexities of Aboriginal people, and what it takes to make success of what they’re offering them. It involves working with community and listening and actioning what communities want. UWS is doing that.
CHRISTINE CARRIAGE In 2007 I received a call from UWS about a position in the School of Medicine for an Indigenous Program Officer. I saw this as an opportunity to support Aboriginal students and Aboriginal people into the school. It was a whole new program that I could help develop and grow into what it needed to be. It meant I would also be working with my communities all over New South Wales. My prime role is to look at ways we can encourage Aboriginal students to be doctors and to influence students around Aboriginal culture and heritage, politics and health issues. We owe the Aboriginal peoples better lives, to be relieved of the suffering and mental anguish that goes on. It was also about getting doctors into Aboriginal communities, because I think there are a lot of myths around treating Aboriginal people in hospitals, and there are a lot of people who are old school, who just treat everyone the same, regardless of who they are. I’ve worked over the years to break down barriers.
Above: Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
am a woman of my mother’s and my grandmother’s clan, the Gunai (Kurnai) people of Gippsland, Victoria. My father’s country is the Yuin nation of the South Coast, NSW.
I was born in Moruya Hospital in 1965, the middle child of three siblings. My brothers and I lived with my mother in Narooma, in my grandmother’s home. When I was three, my mother died. My father then came back and took us to live with him and our step-mum, in Ulladulla, where I grew up. My father was a fisherman, which kept him away for six months of the year; my step-mother stayed home and looked after us. I attended primary and high school in Ulladulla. When I was fourteen we moved to Campbelltown, where I completed my second year at Airds High School. Campbelltown was a real culture shock for me being a teenager and having to make new friends all over again. Coming from the salt water to an urban environment where there was no family, I really felt landlocked and alone. School was a traumatic place for me on the best of days, not only because I changed school and location, but because my father wasn’t a great parent and wasn’t a very nice man. So at school I didn’t say a word, I just shut up. I was one of those girls who faded into the background. I did as much as I could just to survive. I made sure I did not draw attention to myself. My brothers were okay as they had their sport. I was not encouraged to pursue any sort of academic or educational life by my parents or teachers. I had an English teacher who just picked on me for no apparent reason. Every day he hounded me and I wondered why I ever bothered to attend school. I can understand why some kids would just give up and not go to school; I kept going because if I stayed at home it was worse. At high school I was pretty good at art, music and cooking. I still love cooking. I have always been fascinated with the way ingredients work together to create amazing food. I give credit to my stepmother
as we never had money, but she used to know how to make amazing meals out of nothing. She would have a couple of spices in the cupboard with some flour and make an amazing dish. We fished for our food; if we didn’t fish we would eat whatever food was in the cupboard. We would go fishing on the tide, cast our lines; sometimes we would catch fish, crabs, mussels, prawns, oysters and other sea creatures. If we were lucky and the tide was low we would get some abalone. I left high school at sixteen and I could barely read or write. I couldn’t string a sentence together; I just relied on my memory. It annoyed me that no-one took the time to notice I’d never actually learnt the basics of English. Once I was out of school there was nothing for me to do, and I didn’t want to stay home. My father advised me to have a baby and go on the pension, as he thought that was all I could achieve. He said to me, ‘No-one will have you, you can’t read and you can’t write, so what more do you expect?’ I just feel useless and it would have been easier to give up, but I thought, ‘No, I don’t want to do that’. So I went to TAFE to learn how to type because I knew that typing would open the doors and I reached eighty words per minute. My first job out of TAFE was as a receptionist for a government department. I was seventeen. I walked into the interview wearing a pinstripe skirt with my hair pulled back – it was very long, right down my back – and I sat down. The person behind the desk looked at me, didn’t look at any document that I had, and he said, ’You look good, you’ve got the job’. And that’s how I started my career. At nineteen, I decided to attend English classes at TAFE. I knew I needed to understand the written word, how to construct sentences and grammar. It was also my first introduction to Thai, Indian and Chinese food. As I attended English classes, with non-English speaking people, I can remember them bringing in all this wonderful food and saying, ‘Try this, try that’. I loved it. I started to write and to
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
2014 Portrait from the â€˜Generations of Knowledgeâ€™ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Christine Carriage and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
read more, and I started to understand how I should say words and construct sentences. During that time I met my husband Terry. We went out for about six or seven months and then I told him that I needed to get out of my family home and that he was the person I was going to move in with. We’ve been together thirty years this year. I had my son at twentytwo and my daughter two years later. After leaving my position with a government department after six years, I started working for Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation as a receptionist and in other positions within the service. I moved onto the NSW Aboriginal Land Council as a research assistant. While working at the Land Council someone handed me a pamphlet about a community management course at Macquarie University. We wanted to buy a house but working in administration at the minimum wage, with no advancement, it was going to be impossible unless I gained further qualifications. I always recognise opportunities; Terry assisted me in completing the application and
I gained a place as a mature age student. I studied part-time while I continued to work at the Land Council. Towards the end of my diploma I became very sick, as other issues were happening in my life, so I stayed home until my daughter started primary school, before finishing my diploma. After returning to work, I began a Masters in Aboriginal Health at the University of Wollongong, as socio-economic outcomes for marginalised communities have always interested me. When you look at Aboriginal communities the prime issues always come down to health, housing, education, employment and governances. I completed my Masters, and a Bachelor of Community Management a number of years later. During this time I worked as a clinical coordinator for Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, as a casual teacher at TAFE, as an Aboriginal education officer and program coordinator at an Area Health Service and I then for five years as a project officer for Aboriginal Housing. Then in 2007, I received a call about a position as an Indigenous Program Officer at the UWS School of Medicine at Campbelltown. This was good timing as I felt I needed to move on from Aboriginal Housing. I saw it as an opportunity to support Aboriginal students; and I saw an opportunity to develop a program that would address the health needs of Aboriginal people and enable me to work in communities. There are so few Aboriginal doctors, and this position was created to encourage and support Aboriginal students to become doctors, but to educate and work with the wider medical student’s body about Aboriginal culture, heritage, politics and health issues.
Jenny Akers continues to contribute to advance opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Cris Carriage School of Medicine Clinical School Campbelltown Hospital 2012.
Cris Carriage and Gra
ndson Lucus Martin
I feel that I am helping UWS understand our Aboriginal culture and health issues and by this they are supporting our communities. I am able to work with Aboriginal communities across NSW, including twenty-two Aboriginal medical services who support us to train our medical students to understand Aboriginal health and culture. This program would not have been achieved by just one person; I would like to thank my co-worker Jenny Akers for her support of the Aboriginal communities and this program. My closing thoughts are, that if we break down the barriers of ignorance and intolerance, we can start to understand each other and learn from each other. I think we should seek out that knowledge more. The bottom line is we should never judge a person if we don’t know their story.
There are a lot of myths around treating Aboriginal people and there are a lot of people who are old school, who just treat everyone the same, regardless of who they are. I’ve worked over the years to break down these barriers.
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
PAUL NEWMAN In 1989, the last year of my Bachelor of Business degree, the Nepean CAE where I was studying was changing its name to this new entity the University of Western Sydney, so when we were about to graduate we were offered the choice of graduating under the Nepean CAE or under this new university and I chose the University of Western Sydney. So I’m the first Aboriginal Bachelor of Business graduate from the University of Western Sydney, and most likely the first Aboriginal graduate from this new entity. About six years ago I received a call from the University of Western Sydney to come in and help put together their new Indigenous Australian Studies Major program. I was then invited to stay on and do some contract lecturing. That’s how I reconnected to the University of Western Sydney. I did my post-graduate in Master of Arts and Communications here as well. I’ve actually been here for a long time so I know their story, I’ve been part of that journey.
was born in Condobolin, in central west NSW, which is my Dad’s traditional country, the Wiradjuri nation. My mother’s traditional country goes back to Darug nation here in Sydney. I’ve also got connections to Kamilaroi and Murrawarri nations as well. I’ve got a very big family structure and story. My early growing up was on Aboriginal Missions in country NSW. Back in the early sixties some of the missions where we lived were virtually tin shacks with dirt floors. We had no essential services, no water, electricity or sewerage. Even though we grew up pretty poor it was a rich life in terms of family and culture. In Aboriginal culture you grow up with an extended family of parents, siblings, uncles and aunties, so I wasn’t just being brought up by my parents. I cherish that because it was a very rich learning about our culture. If you were sick you didn’t go to the chemist, you accessed bush medicine. I got an introduction to a lot of our traditional culture and practices, understanding bush tucker, bush medicine and getting the whole perspective about the importance and obligations under Aboriginal customary law; your obligations are to family and community – strong values that put me in good stead for the future. I’ve been married for over thirty years now, and I’ve got three daughters whose upbringing is urban, and totally different to mine. I try and instil in them to value what they have, not take things for granted, to understand and appreciate the struggles that not only Aboriginal people have, but others too, and hopefully embed some of those values so that they lead good, healthy lives.
Above and right: Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
My whole upbringing was varied. A lot of people grow up in one or two places, but because my father was a shearer we used to move around. So I experienced many different things, along with some challenges and difficulties. In the mid 1960s, while living in Quambone in north west NSW, we had the unfortunate
experience of being removed from the mission by Welfare. So me and my siblings are typical of the Stolen Generation. I’ve still got memories of us being taken away from our parents and being brought to Sydney and put into homes. My brothers and I ended up in Mittagong Boys Home, down in the Southern Highlands, which was a very daunting place. I was then put into foster care with one of my older siblings. So basically I was a ward of the state until I was 18. Being taken away also broke up my parent’s marriage. What we went through had a really big impact on all of my siblings in many ways, but my father got us out of the homes and out of foster care. That’s how I ended growing up in Wellington, NSW. My dad had remarried so I was able to settle down and finish high school there. I used to absolutely love school, because I was very good at sport and I was recognised within the broader school. It was the sports and a combination of some good teachers that kept me focused on schooling. My dad also died when I was fourteen so I’ve been looking after myself since. I’ve had to make a lot of decisions as a young person, but I was lucky in many ways that the people around me, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, were positive, saying to me ‘you need to focus, you need to concentrate on sport, on school’ and those things kept me grounded, so I didn’t have to deal with a lot of the trauma of being taken away, and things like that. I remember my grandmother saying to me, ‘Son, one thing you need to do in life, you need to get an education, because the white man is educated and you need to be able to operate on that same level, as the white man’. That stuck into me because in Aboriginal culture one of the things I learnt was that education is a lifelong process. Those words of wisdom, focusing on getting an education, grabbing the opportunities and having a job, have probably been the biggest things that have helped me through life.
I finished my school certificate in Year 10 at Wellington High School in the mid seventies and I wanted to be a vocational officer, but back in those days you needed an HSC and because I’d left at Year 10 I didn’t have my HSC. The vocational officer at my school found me a job with the Soil Conservation Service of NSW as a trainee laboratory assistant, so I’ve got real good memories of having the little white lab coat on, working in the lab. We used to test soils and crops for the farmers, and in fact, the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo in its’ early planning stages. From there I went to work with Wellington Shire Council as a trainee surveyor. In 1980 I was studying at the Mitchell College of Advanced Education, which is now Charles Sturt University, when I got a call from my old vocational officer and he asked me if I was still interested in a vocational officer role because a traineeship had come up in Sydney. So I resigned from my job at the Wellington Shire Council and grabbed the opportunity to become a vocational officer. In that role I was going into the schools doing all the career guidance and counselling. Through that I went on to senior management in the public service, filling a whole range of different roles. In the mid eighties I was progressing into middle management in the Commonwealth public service and I asked my supervisor what I needed to do to get the Assistant Director’s job, the big boss’ job. He said, ‘You know all those people they have in those big senior management roles? They all have a university degree and that’s what you really need to get there’. Not long after that the federal government began offering scholarships to Aboriginal staff members in the public service, to go to university. In 1986 I applied to do a Bachelor of Business at the Nepean CAE and I got a three-year scholarship. In my last year of study the Nepean CAE was changing its name to this new entity, the University of Western Sydney, so when we were about to graduate we were offered the choice of graduating under the Nepean CAE or under this new university, and I chose the University of Western Sydney. So I’m the
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first Aboriginal Bachelor of Business graduate from the University of Western Sydney, and most likely the first Aboriginal graduate from this new entity. That was just a really good experience. After I graduated in 1990 I went back to the public service but there was a major restructuring and the job I once had was gone. That made me re-assess my whole career. Having a tertiary qualification and being very aware of the political process I started my own business. I set up a management consulting company in 1992 and I’ve been in business ever since, advising on Indigenous economic development policy making, along with adult education and training. About six years ago I received a call from the University of Western Sydney to come in and help put together their new Indigenous Australian Studies Major program. I came on as a casual contractor and worked with a team of Indigenous academics and we wrote the major. I was then invited to stay on and do some contract lecturing. I’ve been teaching some of the units we wrote over the last six years. That’s how I reconnected with the University of Western Sydney. I did my postgraduate in Master of Arts and Communications here as well. I’ve actually been here for a long time so I know their story, I’ve been part of that journey. It’s been a very good experience and beneficial for me in my development and learning. Historically the University has been very strong in programs like the Indigenous Australian Studies Major, and things like UWSCollege providing an alternative entry point for people. There has been a good positive cultural aspect put in, around cultural competence, making Aboriginal affairs and issues part of the core business of the University. When you think about what has historically happened in universities nationally, Aboriginal education has often been seen as
a welfare type of service, an add-on. It’s often been focused around students’ support, getting more people in to undergraduate studies, and UWS have done that really well. I think the next level is about embedding Aboriginal knowledge into the whole curriculum base within the University, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re doing law or business, engineering or medicine, all those units should have elements of Aboriginal culture embedded in them. For example, I do a lot of work with engineers who went to university twenty years ago, when the engineering course would have been very technically based. Now what they’re finding is they’re often doing their business, as an engineer, on Aboriginal land and they need to know how to communicate with Aboriginal land owners. So I spend a lot of my time teaching those engineers about culture. The focus shouldn’t just be on Aboriginal students getting it, but also about educating non-Aboriginal students and staff. And it shouldn’t just be about Aboriginal culture but cultural diversity more broadly. The next level is postgraduate, and then research needs to be part of it. I think universities like UWS have started to make that leap. I was recently appointed to the Board of Trustees for the University of Western Sydney. I never would’ve dreamed, back in my undergraduate days, that I would end up back here on the board of trustees, being part of the broader strategic planning that’s happening within the University of Western Sydney, seeing how the Aboriginal affairs business is now being embedded into the University, where years ago it wouldn’t have been. It’s starting to change.
DR DANA SLAPE Bored with my job of selling mascara and lipstick in retail, I applied to UWS and through the specific pathways for Indigenous people I got into the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery program at their School of Medicine. I graduated in December 2013 and I’m now a junior doctor intern at Westmead Hospital. My family have been very strong believers in my potential and in my educational ability, so they went the extra mile for me, and that’s true of the staff at UWS as well. People have just bent over backwards to help me out, to achieve what I have. I’ve been very fortunate to have the support of a diversity of academic, professional and social supports and mentors. I think starting later, having had time to develop myself as both a communicator and a working adult, has made me a better doctor.
Above: Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
’m from the Larrakia mob, which is around Darwin, so even though I’ve grown up in Sydney, in and around Gadigal country and Dharawal country, my family are from the Northern Territory. My dad is a Larrakia descendant and I’ve got a lot of family up there. Mum’s an Anglo blend, from English-Irish-Scottish background. During World War 2, when Darwin was bombed by Japan, everyone fled. My grandmother was found with a small group of her relatives hiding in the sand dunes after the bombings, and after that they were forced to move to Adelaide. So my dad’s never lived in Darwin but that’s where his heritage is from. I was born in Canterbury, Sydney, but early on in the piece we moved to Western Australia because Dad’s in the Navy; at that time he was an engineer on submarines, and that’s where his career took us. So, my earliest memories are in Western Australia, in and around the naval base south of Perth. The town was mainly Navy families and there was a sense of camaraderie between the children, the mothers and the fathers who worked together. The Navy base had a very distinct, penetrating diesel smell. We’d know when Dad was home because his overalls and everything that came home with him smelled of diesel. Back in Sydney, the Navy had put us in a rented house, where it felt like we were a little ghetto family in an affluent area. As far as I knew, I was the only kid through primary school and high school from Indigenous heritage. I think it was quite hard for me as a little kid. When you’re plonked in an environment where everybody’s quite well-to-do and you’re seen as some kind of ghetto kid, it’s hard to kind of fit in. I remember hearing from my parents about how Dad, when he was starting his career in the Navy, had done it as an Aboriginal man in the Australian Defence Force. I was aware of those attitudes myself, during high school, and was discouraged from reaching my potential because they thought I didn’t have much.
Once I’d finished high school I spent a short time at two other universities and hated it. The transition to tertiary education was completely isolating and I didn’t handle it very well. So I gave the idea of uni away and worked for the next seven years doing make-up and skin care sales in department stores. Eventually, through the specific pathways for Indigenous people, I got into the Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery program at the School of Medicine at UWS. I think starting later, having had time to develop myself as both a communicator and a working adult, has made me a better doctor. I feel like medicine is something that called to me. Since I could remember, I’ve been fascinated with how and why things work and also how and why things stop working, and how do you fix that? So the idea of bringing together that scientific curiosity and my desire to connect with people and help them appealed to me. Becoming a doctor seemed like something that was inevitable given my personality traits and desire to connect with people at their best and worst moments. Bored with my job after seven years of selling mascara and lipstick in retail, I did some research and applied to UWS. I sat the tests, did the interviews, submitted papers and even though I thought they might not, they did let me in. My family have been very strong supporters and believers in my potential and in my educational ability, so they went the extra mile for me, and that’s true of the staff at UWS as well. People have just bent over backwards to help me out to achieve what I have. So, I’ve been very fortunate to have the support of a diversity of academic, professional and social supports and mentors. I graduated last year, December 2013, and I’m now a junior doctor intern at Westmead Hospital. It’s a really good baptism into medical life because it’s such a big hospital. It’s also a melting pot of different people. You get people from very privileged and underprivileged backgrounds, a lot of Aboriginal patients and people from all over the world, so it’s a great set of experiences with such a diverse
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community. I think if you can get through those first couple of years in a place as busy and demanding as Westmead, then you’ll come out a better doctor. I’d love to pursue dermatology. I had a team of immunologists take me on, in my third year of medicine, to do a research project with them on immunologically-mediated skin disease and quality of life in children. They really nurtured me as a junior researcher and doctor and kept my interest strong in these types of disabling illnesses. I realised quickly that dermatology seemed to fit my skill set and areas of interest; it’s a good mix of surgical skills, infectious disease, immunology, oncology, adults and paediatrics. The burden of skin disease in our Aboriginal population is catastrophic, so if I can contribute to helping close the gap on something that has life shortening consequences then that’ll be a good career, I think. I did some volunteer work in the top end of the Northern Territory helping with a scabies eradication program. The skin infections that come from scabies can have severe and life-limiting consequences including acute renal failure and rheumatic heart disease in children. Kids actually die from these conditions. It just doesn’t seem right that something so easily treated with the application of a skin cream is so prevalent and causes so much devastation to the well being of children in this country. Yet one in three kids up there have it, and in some communities eighty percent of them have it. It’s just not okay and that’s where I see my contribution to dermatology in Australia. I identify as an Aboriginal person and I do so quite publicly. I take the role I have quite seriously. I try to be the best role model and help the community in every way that I possibly can. However, I think there are a lot of people in the same position that I am in who don’t have a strong understanding and knowledge of Indigenous culture in terms of language and cultural practices. I definitely feel like I have a lot to learn. Having said that, there is an intense understanding and awareness of the holistic approach to Aboriginality and Aboriginal health that I have come to appreciate through having spent time in communities and working with Aboriginal doctors, nurses, and health workers. The support from other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors cannot be underestimated as a huge factor that has contributed to my success as I couldn’t have gotten through the tough times of medical school without their support and guidance.
Left: Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
Through the Indigenous Doctors Association and through UWS and the relationships I’ve made a lot of friends who are walking similar paths to me, trying to do the best for Indigenous health and the general medical wellbeing of their patients. So I feel like I connect with those people, and have the humility and self-awareness to be present in these tiny towns and islands in rural and remote Australia, show up to work with the right intentions, learn and offer what I can. I chose UWS because their new Medical program was exciting. It was five years and very heavily clinically focused which meant I’d be spending time with people rather than with my head buried in textbooks. That really appealed to me, and at the interview I had a very clear sense that the familiarity of the academics would translate into an ongoing and approachable relationship.
environment to actually have a meaningful outcome. The first Aboriginal doctor was in 1983. That’s the year I was born. Yet the first Maori doctor was in the late 1800s. As was the first native American doctor. So we’re about 100 years behind similar colonised populations because of a variety of historical and social situations that still affect our people. There’s no doubt that if we can get more Aboriginal doctors out there, we will fill a workforce gap and therefore hopefully contribute to improved health outcomes.
I was very proud to be a staff member and a student. To be there without a science background suddenly teaching medicine, from working in retail not that long before, I felt very proud about that and I felt very proud to be at UWS for Indigenous people. There are moments where I can see things changed for me, like the research gig with immunologists, which I know has influenced my career path and the relationships and the opportunities that have stemmed from that have changed my life trajectory. My experience as an Aboriginal person in the medical school, and my relationships with academics and my relationships with patients, have only been positive and I have only ever felt the utmost support and encouragement. I felt inspired to continue to do what I do, and do it better. There seems to be this subtle idea in our society that to be Indigenous means having to continually live with overcoming great struggles and that near enough is good enough. This deficit model of Indigeneity sits wrong with me and I think more needs to be done to challenge this. I think we should be enthusiastically celebrating the big and small achievements of Indigenous peoples and creating nurturing and mentoring and leadership, because if we’re not going to lead from within then no meaningful change will happen. I think affirmative action and proactive recruitment needs to be done and is the right thing to do. That being said, it needs to be done with the right support and the right resources and the right
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DR RYAN DASHWOOD My current role at the UWS Medical School involves writing curriculum, assessment and doing a lot of marking on Indigenous Health placements. As a member of the University of Western Sydney Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Employment, I mentor and advise both past and present students as well as work on the ever evolving medical program under the guidance of some very special deans who are dedicated to our peoples health.
grew up in Sydney. I’m a Mascot boy, whereas my father’s family, on his father’s side, are Budawang people which are part of the Yuin nation from the NSW South Coast. Over the years I’ve learned more about that side of my family, about other great aunts and other cousins, and I’ve grown closer to it myself. My grandfather is part of who I am, and as I have grown older I’ve come to appreciate the importance of personal genealogy. At first I thought that I was in the process of becoming a new person but it was actually me getting to know myself better, to know who I am. This process has also informed and developed my later professional ambitions. It started when I was around nineteen or twenty. I’ve got a cousin, on the South Coast, who has an Aboriginal cultural education centre there, which kids from high schools and primary schools can visit. He uses education as his way of closing the gap. I helped him set up university visits as part of his program. My earlier life at home and school was pretty happy and easy going. I went to high school in Maroubra, where I was just an average student who got average marks. I had a good group of mates – we went to the beach and the movies on the weekends. I just cruised through and got out. Even though there was no great ambition at the time, I went straight from high school to the University of New South Wales, where I did biotechnology. I’d loved biology in Year 12 but I also couldn’t decide whether I wanted to do genetics or sport science. In the end I went for biotechnology and genetics because the program sounded more interesting than exercise and physiology. These were the first steps toward my career in medicine and the beginnings of mentoring Indigenous medical students. I eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Biotechnology and Medical Microbiology
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and Immunology. While I was there I made contact with the Indigenous student centre and they took interest in the fact I was passing my science degree and they asked me to tutor other Indigenous students who were struggling with science. It was also at a time when there was a push by the deans around Australia to have more Indigenous medical students recruited and retained. So it was a bit of a buzz thing at the time. At this early stage going to university was just something that I was doing to get my degree, to get a job. I was going through the motions – I wasn’t emotionally attached to my degree or my studies. I just wanted to finish my degree, get out and start work, even though I wasn’t sure what that work would be. I was lucky because at the time, between 2001 and 2005, I got a traineeship at the Children’s Hospital Westmead and then at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, working in cytogenetics. It was an okay income for a uni student, and once my degree was finished they were going to put me on full-time, so I had that incentive to finish it and get out and get into the workforce properly. I moved into a hospital scientist role from 2005 until 2007. During my science degree time, the Indigenous student centre advised that I get a broader depth of Aboriginal knowledge. In 2005 I completed a Graduate Certificate of Health Science (Indigenous Community Health). The following year I was enrolled in the University of Sydney Medical Program, graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery in 2009. After nine years of university study I became an intern at the Prince of Wales Hospital in 2011. They kept me on in a senior resident position and I am now an emergency registrar. After even more exams I am now an advanced trainee with the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine. Doing secondments rotating through different areas is all part of the specialisation process in medicine. Emergency is my thing. I like it because of the mix, the
people you meet and work with as well as the pathology you see. I love that it’s very hands-on, very practical. Patients come in with various symptoms and I get to do my detective work. So, I’ve got everything. I’ve got the practical and the physician investigative side. I am now a graduate member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and am working through my registrar years towards a Fellowship with the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine. I also give lectures on communicating positively with Aboriginal patients, and provide support and mentoring for medical students. My connection with UWS began a couple of years ago during a stressful time in the emergency ward. It was job application time and there were more doctors coming through than there were guaranteed jobs. So I started looking outside the circle, looking at universities to see if there were any research positions. UWS had a position for a Professor of Indigenous Health, which required an Aboriginal medical doctor with a PhD. I only knew of about one Aboriginal doctor with a PhD, if that, so I thought I should talk to them. During our conversation they saw how keen I was on becoming an academic that they developed this position for me, in the UWS Medical School, in which I’m learning about writing curriculum and assessment and do a lot of marking on Indigenous health placements. I’m getting more and more involved each year. As a member of the University of Western Sydney Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Employment, I make myself available to mentor and advise both past and present students as well as work on the ever evolving medical program under the guidance of some very special deans who are dedicated to our people’s health.
LYNDA HOLDEN I joined UWS in 2009 when I was offered a lecturer’s position in Nursing. Being a qualified lawyer as well as a Registered Nurse and Midwife, I am now a Lecturer – Aboriginal and Liaison to the School of Nursing and Midwifery. My role is to promote the School, especially to attract more Aboriginal people to learn to be nurses and lawyers. I feel that there’s a bigger connection for me here than just my campus, in that there aren’t many Aboriginals in the University, so I see my role on a bigger scale. Whether that’s changing things through law or whether it’s changing things in the School of Nursing and Midwifery or changing how the Vice Chancellor sees the world.
y family, on my father’s side is Biripi and on my mother’s side is Dunghutti, on the Mid-north Coast of New South Wales. I’ve always known where I’ve come from and who the elders are and I’m recognised by both. I was born and grew up in Glen Innis but we travelled around and lived on a number of river banks before we came back Glen Innis where I completed my Year 10. I was one of nine children, too much for my parents really. My earliest memory is of the riverbank at Dirranbandi where a lot of Aboriginal people lived. I remember going to school there and sitting on a seat outside the window listening in, which I think is why today, when I go to the movies or am in a lecture, I always turn and listen with my left ear. I lived in a tent up until about 1963. The first house I lived in was one my father built. He saved up enough money to buy a housing block in Goondiwindi, got a draftsman to draw him some plans and built our house. It’s still standing there. Looking back on those times they were happy. My only regret is being put into an orphanage with my mother’s sister and her brother. My mother left the home due to domestic violence and they took us off our father and put us in St Patrick’s orphanage in Armidale. We were there for about 12 months. They weren’t very nice. I’ve still got a scar on the top of my head where a nun hit me with a fence paling. Some child had removed it and she presumed it must be the Aboriginal, so she hit me over the head with it. They weren’t nice nuns.
Left: 2014 Portrait from the ‘Generations of Knowledge’ Project as conceived and commissioned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on Campus, University of Western Sydney. Co-created by Lynda Holden and Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
Even though many policies and attitudes in the ‘50s and early ‘60s were racist I was never brought up to recognise race. I find it very difficult to recognise a person’s race. I can understand a person’s culture but I struggle with race. My parents taught me that everybody was a human being, that was first and foremost. Despite the horrendous past my parents went through, both were stolen generation, they never allowed us to claim we were stolen generation
because of our time in the orphanage. They said it as it was. It was due to domestic violence. So we never have. It was never based on race, it was about human beings. That is the legacy of my parents; my values are from my parent’s humanity. My early schooling was interrupted because whenever the welfare got too close all the camp just packed everything up and drove off. Goondiwindi was the first extended period of time I actually stayed in school. I was a good student and I was accelerated through the classes, and that continued into Glen Innis High School, where I did Year 7 and 8 in one year. I don’t ever recall failing an exam, and when I did fail my first exam, in nursing, it was catastrophic for me. I ran away from home. My father found me, took me on a holiday, and made me realise that sometimes you do fall on your face but it’s no big shame. I started my nursing training at Glen Innis District Hospital in 1976. Nursing was my calling because as a nurse you’re closer to the human being. If you look at the structure of hospitals it’s the nurse who’s managing the patient’s experience. Once I finished I came down to Sydney to Concord to work in a medical ward. I was then asked to be part of a team that established the Concord Burns Centre. I was working in Aged Care after I got married and had the boys, and while I was there I saw this application for the Graduate Diploma of Midwifery at UWS. So I put the application in and got accepted. I had no idea about university, I just thought it was like a class, you went along and you wrote things. I used to write all my assignments by hand because I had no idea about the internet. My sons had a PC but if they didn’t turn it off before they went to school and that, I would go out shopping for the whole day in case the thing caught alight. Had no idea about all this technology. After graduating I went to work in Community Health as an Aboriginal Registered Nurse and Midwife. I then got a position as a
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Policy Officer in DOCS and later became a Case Worker to find out how decisions and procedures were made and implemented. There were things I believed needed changing, but to do that you needed to understand legislation and the law, so I enrolled in law at UNSW. I did a double degree because there wasn’t enough law in nursing.
In the School of Nursing there are two groups, Midwifery and Nursing. For an Aboriginal person though, and especially for me, working in remote areas in nursing you’re going from midwifery to nursing all the time, I just see it as a natural transition. I can’t belong to either one, I have to work across both because most Aboriginal people do, whether you’re in a city or in a remote community.
The biggest influence on my life is the fact that education can change any situation for a person. It didn’t matter how many river banks we moved to, the first thing my parents made sure was that we attended school. They were very big on being educated. My father was a labourer in the sawmills, it was the only job he could get because he had no education, so he developed this lifelong learning in his children.
When I was asked to work with the School of Law I made the statement that I don’t like my identity being wiped out by being called an Indigenous person. I’m an Aboriginal person. So things like that are changing, people are beginning to understand their importance. I mean, if you tell me you’re English I don’t go calling you British, which means you could be Welsh, Irish or English. Just like in South Africa they have black, white, coloureds and Afrikaans. I’m sure the coloured people would prefer to be called Indians, so why not call them Indians. Why do we have to remove their culture?
I was working on a pro bono case at the Law Society, in 2009, when Melissa Williams called to invite me to apply for a position at UWS, I did and was offered a lecturer’s position in nursing. The day they called I had to review a person’s statement and it was about three hundred pages long, so I thought ‘Well do I want to sit and do this all day or do I want to do something exciting?’ So I saw the offer as an opportunity to go into a broader area, a new challenge. It’s just like going from one riverbank to another. There’s new things to learn, new ways of doing things, just another riverbank for me to explore. All I expected to be was a lecturer, a teacher in School of Nursing and Midwifery and not have a leadership role but after a couple of months the Dean of the School of Law invited me for a coffee and he said ‘I’ve been told you’re an Aboriginal Lawyer.’ The Dean of the School of Nursing told him that she had an Aboriginal lawyer who was also a Registered Nurse and Midwife. So now I’m a Lecturer Aboriginal and Liaison to the School of Nursing and Midwifery. My role is to promote the School, especially to attract more Aboriginal people to learn to be nurses and lawyers.
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I feel that there’s a bigger connection for me here than just my campus, in that there aren’t many Aboriginals in the University and there aren’t many Aboriginals that can take it up to the executive. So I see my role on a bigger scale. Whether that’s changing things through law or whether it’s changing things in the School of Nursing and Midwifery or changing how the Vice Chancellor sees the world. I realised at an early age that you need to go to the top and work down to get the change.
DR GAWAIN BODKIN-ANDREWS My association with UWS began over thirteen years ago when I did a Bachelor of Arts degree there. After that I went on to do my Honours in Psychology and followed that with a PhD in Indigenous Education and Psychology. After completing my studies I went straight into work in academia because I was lucky enough to win a series of Australian Research Grants that enabled me to continue research education and psychology from Aboriginal perspectives.
’m from the Dharawal nation, and my father identifies with the Nattaimattagal clan (Sweet-water peoples) and Mum with the Bidiagal clan (Bitter-water peoples). We can trace our family back to at least the Appin Massacre in 1816 as my father is descended from Bundell, who was a Dharawal Tracker who was desperately trying to return to his people to warn them of the militia’s intent. My mother is descended from Albert of the Georges River, who was the brother of Kannaby who was murdered at the massacre. I was born in Sydney and initially grew up in Campbelltown, although I have no memory of this. When I was about six my parents moved up to Tahmoor, and I went to Tahmoor Public School and then I finally went to Picton High School. There were only a few Aboriginal children at the school at the time, but because Dad was heavily involved with the local Tharawal Land Council, I was aware there were other family groups in the area, so I wasn’t as culturally isolated as one would think. Unfortunately, when I was fifteen I was badly injured by a car while riding my bike and spent three months in hospital, so my memories of my early years are somewhat fragmented. Regardless, I can say I have never known what it is like to not be Aboriginal and to be honest, in the long run I know that my sense of identity has helped me pull through the psychological and physical impact of the accident. I did finish high school and was lucky enough to get straight into university on my own accord.
Above: Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
I did a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Western Sydney, majoring in psychology and sociology. After that I went on to do my Honours in psychology part-time, while working for the Native Title Services NSW. I was a Notifications Officer, so whenever the government or companies wanted to do any work on land I sent out notices and as a result was the preliminary contact for Traditional Owners and Aboriginal organisations. It was good to make sure that they knew what was going on their Traditional Lands. I did that for about two to three years before going on to do a PhD in Indigenous Education and Psychology. Looking
back, I wasn’t that interested in becoming a practicing psychologist, as I was more interested in the research side and finding out ‘why’. The PhD was about the self-perceptions, motivation and racism experienced by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. From this, I have become very passionate about fighting racism and its negative effects, particularly from an Indigenous theoretical standpoint. I’ve been very fortunate to have had and still have, a strong level of family support as my parents have taught me to be proud of who I am. I’ve repeatedly seen my parents actively combat racism whenever it emerged and I have drawn from their strength and wisdom. For example, when I’ve both witnessed and experienced racism, I came to realize that it is the racist’s problem, not mine. They are the one whose beliefs are based on ignorance and stupidity, not mine. Racism still needs to be fought and I’ve learned that you should not be afraid to challenge it. After completing the PhD I went straight into work in academia because I was lucky enough to win a series of Australian Research Council grants that allowed me to continue research education and psychology from Indigenous perspectives. Of course, throughout these grants, I’ve come to more thoroughly understand the complexities of racism today. Probably the most import lesson to emerge from my work is that when we are looking into why people, institutions and even societies are racist, I realized that we may never really eradicate racism. From this, if racism is going to always exist, we must ask how can we help our people become stronger so they are not harmed as much by racism? There are things that are said and done to you because you are known as Aboriginal. We’ve got to talk about the differing levels of racism around us, like just seeing things on the news can make you quite angry, and that can upset light and dark skinned Aboriginal people equally. And then if you’re light skinned you’ve got the added threat to your very identity. That is people constantly question who
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you are. It can be very degrading, especially if it comes from other Aboriginal people. I think the problem with this sort of thinking is that Aboriginality is too often defined in terms of deficit thinking, that you have to be disadvantaged somehow. To put it simply, this is the wrong way to think about who we are, because we should be proud of who we are, our connection to our cultures, our lands, our values and our unique knowledges. It’s not about what we haven’t got. I believe and have been taught that if you’ve got one drop of Aboriginal blood, you are Aboriginal,and you should value this. Aboriginality isn’t just about blood or skin colour, it’s about surviving and being a representative of your culture and passing on what you know. People forget or ignore this and in doing so they threaten our survival. Consider the Stolen Generations and its impact on many people. I know Aboriginal people whose parents or grandparents have refused to acknowledge their Aboriginality and hidden their family history. When they’ve asked me about reconnecting with their culture, I don’t blame them for the decisions they did not make, instead I try to help. I don’t get caught up in the ‘you’re not black enough’, or the ‘you’re just in it for the benefits ‘ nonsense promoted by varying media personalities. If you’re denying people the ability to reconnect with their culture, or even questioning one’s right to connect, I think that’s one of the most severe forms of racism you can get. I think there’s been too much negative imagery of what it means to be Aboriginal, within the academic media and political environments. They get caught up petty destructive politics and ignore the amazing depth and positivity within the knowledges of so many Aboriginal nations. What we forget is that the whole notion of ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Indigenous Australians’ has been imposed on us by the colonizers. It’s not what we call ourselves, we call ourselves by our clans or nations. This whole are-you-Aboriginal-or-not debate is so simplistic and demeaning of the diversity of our peoples. We’re Dharawal, Dharug, Gundungurra, Wiradjuri, and so on. We have our different languages, learning stories and protocols and we need to understand this diversity of what is Aboriginal Australia. Sadly it’s the public debate from the media and politics which tends to dumb things down and too often our own people get infected by this.
on or including Aboriginal perspectives was excellent (sadly not consistent across disciplines), and the Elders on Campus program was a wonderful and inspiring initiative. There is still a lot more UWS (and other universities) should and could do, but that’s another (very long) and much needed story. I am now at Warawara, the Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University. I’ve been told Warawara means ‘Welcome’ or ‘Come in’ within the Darug language, but interestingly it means something else in Dharawal. My long-term ambition is to contribute to the understanding and appreciation of Indigenous Knowledges and cultures. There is so much wisdom and knowledge that people are unaware of (including me), like the immense medicinal knowledge of native plants and remedies. Another example, and probably the most important thing I’ve learnt from my culture, from my Dharawal Elders, is the philosophies we live by. Our dreaming and the law and learning stories that are part of it, this has been critical in how I think about things, how I cope with things, how I try to live. Our learning stories promote open-mindedness, an emphasis on peace and a willingness to learn. And probably the biggest aspect would be our kinship, how we, at least within our Mob, can have a lot of respect for each other. Even with other Aboriginal nations, we have very important protocols with regard to how we should communicate with each other, protocols that promote mutual respect. It was all about taking the time to understand each other’s perspectives, it’s about sharing. It’s respecting our diverse ways of being, which is something could be highly relevant in Australia today, because too often we get lost in our own partisan politics and all that ugly business.
I spent thirteen years studying and researching at UWS, and as a university I have seen it grow in its ability to work with Aboriginal students and Aboriginal communities. Some of the courses focusing
Left: Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
TARREN LEON I’ve had two lives here at UWS. One is a work life as a trainee and cadet, and now the second one as a student. Both experiences have been really good. I love my job and I feel very comfortable here. Being part of UWS has helped me appreciate my own cultural identity. There are a lot of people like me here on campus and other Aboriginal staff, trainees and students and they have lots of Aboriginal art on display, they have dances and events, all of which builds up that part of me, it helps me feel part of that world.
y father’s family is from the Worimi people up around Foster. When I was younger we used to go on holidays up there with my great aunt and we’d meet some of the family locally. My mum’s family are from English and Irish backgrounds.
how I eventually got into UWS. While looking I came across an Aboriginal identified position which involved a certificate course, most of which I managed to complete in six months. The boss that I had at the time at UWS saw how keen I was and gave me the idea of studying at university.
When I was little my father would tell me things he’d learnt from his side of the family. He tried really hard to find out as much as he could about the stories of the land and the traditions. I thought those stories were special because deep down there was a part of me that didn’t quite know and it was something quite new, quite special to hear. As I get older I’m more interested in learning about my history.
I wasn’t actively looking for an Aboriginal Identified position, it just seemed like a really good opportunity and I took it. I now work in the IT procurement team which arranges for all the software and sorts out leases for hardware for UWS. There’s a lot of data entry, contacting clients, dealing with the vendors, arrange quarterly review meetings that sort of thing. When my traineeship finished my team leader Vicki sorted out my position and now I’m in a cadetship so I am able to study and work part-time. It’s an awesome program, organised through Melissa William’s department, it really motivates you to do well. This is a really good stepping stone to a career.
I grew up in Campbelltown with my younger sibling and that’s where I went to school. Mum’s the deputy principal of Eaglevale High School and my dad works in IT at UWS at the same campus as me, which is a nice coincidence, so we get to car pool every morning. My parents have been very supportive of my choices, encouraging me to make my own choices and follow my passion rather than theirs. Before I came to university I was actually a makeup artist and I studied makeup artistry until I realised there wasn’t much happening in the world of makeup and I was probably a bit too intellectual. After finishing high school I had a break and ended up working in retail at a clothing store for a couple of years. While I was there I did a course at Makeup Technicians and from that course I got work in a makeup retail shop where I did makeup for weddings and special events. So it took me a while to kind of get to the point where I am now. I really just wished I had gone to uni earlier.
Above and right: Photographer Sally Tsoutas.
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
Initially though, I wasn’t thinking of uni, I just wanted a job that provided more stability than the makeup profession where you’re pretty much on your own. So what I was looking to do was pull myself right out of what I was actually doing and I started looking for a traineeship in something like administration and that’s
Moving from a traineeship to a cadetship was what started me thinking about doing a uni degree. My team leader and my parents encouraged me to pursue further study because they knew if I put my head to it I could do it, so I sorted out some goals. I am half way through my Bachelor of Arts degree course with the key program in psychology. I definitely want to do something in the field of psychology. What appeals to me is neuro psychology so I can help people with Alzheimer’s and who have memory problems, to try to diagnose those sorts of issues and help them. I’m happy studying at this stage and I plan to stay at university until I really determine my path, whether to pursue more study or a profession. I’ve had two lives here at UWS. One is a worklife as a trainee and cadet and now the second one as a student. Both experiences have been really good. I love my job but I’m more partial to my life
as a student. I feel very comfortable here. My partner’s also very supportive of me getting a degree, because he says that one day when I’m earning the big bucks he’ll get to stay at home. Ha. Yeah. Being here, being part of UWS has helped me appreciate my own cultural identity. There are a lot of people like me here on campus, like Melissa and other Aboriginal staff, trainees and students, and they have lots of Aboriginal art on display, they have dances and events, all of which builds up that part of me, it helps me feel part of that world. I now want to be a role model for other Aboriginal kids. I think that perhaps some of them might be like I was, afraid to take up some of the opportunities that are on offer to them and I think I can be a role model in saying that you can change, to clean these sorts of things up, give it a good go and when you do there are people around to support you. I’ve gone from someone who was as an awkward student to someone who is now hard working and wants to be a role model. That’s a pretty interesting change isn’t it? I’m very confident in my Aboriginality, I feel more confident about it now than when I was a teenager. I think I learnt that by doing Psychology, it taught to me to understand difference and gave me a clearer understanding of myself. That’s something I’ve come realise, that psychologists need specific skills and understanding in dealing with Aboriginal situations and that’s part of my desire to be a role model – being a role model as a psychology issue for Aboriginals. That’s why I definitely believe we should have more Aboriginal psychologists. As my appreciation of my own Aboriginal heritage has grown I’ve come to realise that Aboriginals think about life differently, especially community. It looks to me like they’re more adept at family life, not just immediate family but your broader family, so I think we have something to learn from them.
THE FUTURE IS UPON US
“I DO IT FOR THE KIDS BECAUSE THE KIDS ARE OUR FUTURE.” Jo Galea
Photographers Sally Tsoutas and Nicholas Smith.
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
A NOTE ON THE SOURCES If you are interested in sourcing further information in regards to the stories, lives and people featured in this publication please go on-line to www.uws.edu.au/oatsiee/sources to access the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement web sites. Please see the Generations of Knowledge Exhibition and the e-version of this book. You will also be able to hear various Elderâ€™s, leaders, staff and alumni tell their stories via audio links. You can also contact the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement at: Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement University of Western Sydney Phone: 02 9678 7587 Email: email@example.com Website: www.uws.edu.au
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to acknowledge past Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders who have contributed to the advancement of Aboriginal affairs in the development of UWS 1991 – 1995 1997 – 2000 1997 – 2000 1997 – 1999 2001 – 2002 2006 – 2010
Associate Professor Wendy Holland Janice Dennis Ann Flood Pearl Wymarra Wendy Brady Professor Michael McDaniel
Foundation Director of Booloobidja Aboriginal Education Centre (UWS Macarthur) Head, Durali Aboriginal Education Centre (UWS Nepean) Director, Goolangullia Aboriginal Education Centre (UWS Macarthur) Director, Wyung Indigenous Aboriginal Unit Hawkesbury (UWS Hawkesbury) Director, Centre for Aboriginal Education Dean, Indigenous Education and Director, Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education
We would like to acknowledge all Chancellors, Deputy Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors, Deputy Vice-Chancellors and Provosts for their contributions to the advancement of Aboriginal affairs in the development of UWS
University of Western Sydney Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council and Elder in Residence, Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education Aunty Jean South University of Western Sydney Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement Advisory Board and Elders on Campus Uncle Harry Allie Aunty Fran Bodkin Aunty Noeline Briggs-Smith OAM Aunty Sandra Lee Uncle Wes Marne Uncle Norm Newlin Aunty Rasme Prior Aunty Thelma Quartey Aunty Mae Robinson Aunty Norma Shelley OAM Uncle Greg Simms Uncle Rex Sorby Aunty Edna Watson Uncle Ivan Wellington Aunty Zona Wilkinson Uncle Steve Williams Uncle Darryl Wright
University of Western Sydney Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy Consultative Committee The University of Western Sydney Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community University of Western Sydney Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Senior Staff Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education and Team Schools Engagement Unit Indigenous Outreach Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre Student Recruitment Unit UWSCollege Whitlam Institute Eric Sidoti, Director Whitlam Institute, UWS Project Team Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement Team Darren Allie, Project Officer Jennifer Flood, Project Officer Terri Keating, Administration Assistant Angela Spithill, Project Support
UWS Staff Sinead Brennan, Associate Producer, TVS Stephen Butcher, Senior Manager, Information and Analysis Sue Craig, University Librarian Natalie Dawson, Web Coordinator, Web Services Unit, UWS Nana Derkyi, Senior Designer, Media and Design, UWS Michelle Dickson, Public Relations Coordinator, Cathie Lester, University Archivist, UWS Records & Archives Management Services Peter Malecki, Senior Commercial Lawyer Brian McCallum, Web Coordinator, Web Services Unit, UWS Monica McMahon, Art Curator, UWS Art Collection Carolyn Massingham, Communications Officer, UWS Office of Marketing and Communication Josephine Parsons, Events and Public Relations Assistant Danielle Roddick, Web Coordinator, Web Services Unit, UWS External Team Chris Tobin, Virtual World Consultant Dave Sims, DX Productions Jim Trembath, Camera Operator/Editor, Freelance
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
INDEX A Ability Options 46, 49 Aboriginal Education Consultants 72 Aboriginal Education Policy 72 Aboriginal Protection Board 29, 30, 34 Aboriginal Welfare Board 22 Allie, Uncle Harry 14–17, 32 Apology 58 Appin Massacre 91 archaeology 44 Archibald clan 38 Ashford 26 ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission) 17, 30, 72 Australian Botanic Gardens (Mt Annan) 20 Australian Electoral Commission 32 Australian Railways Union 34 Australian Teachers’ Federation 62 B Badu 30 Barr, Dr David 38–39 Baulkham Hills 44 Bellbrook Aboriginal Reserve 66 Bigambul 26 Biripi 88 Blacksmith, Jimmy 46 Blacktown Arts Centre 55 Bodkin, Aunty Fran 18–21 Bodkin-Andrews, Dr Gawain 91–93 Bonner, Senator Neville 72 Borroloola 70 Boystown 49 Briggs-Smith, Aunty Noeline 25 Bundjalung 60 Burbaga Aboriginal Corporation 10–11 Burnt Bridge Aboriginal Mission 38, 39 Burra-Bee-Dee Aboriginal Mission 34
GENERATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
C Campbelltown 76 Campbelltown Hospital 20 Canadian Navy 61–62 Cape York Peninsula 70 Carriage, Cris 76–79 Casino 60 Charles Darwin University 65 Charters Towers 14 Commonwealth Public Service 82 Condobolin 80 Coolangatta 50 Coonabarabran 34 Cootamundra 38, 66 Cowra 56 Craven, Professor Rhonda 24 Culengati 50 D Darug 6 Boorooberongal 10, 44 Gadigal 46 language revival 10–11, 42, 44 Social Studies Unit on 72 Darug Custodians Aboriginal Corporation 42, 44 Darug Tribal Aboriginal Council 10 Dashwood, Dr Ryan 86–87 Deadbird Aboriginal Mission, Inverell 26 Department of Aboriginal Affairs 56 Department of Agriculture 74 Department of Community Services 76 Department of Corrections 65 Department of Human Services 52 Department of Immigration 30 dermatology 85 Dharawal/Tharawal 6 Bidiagal 18, 91 Nattai 20 Nattaimattagal 91 Whale people 47 Dirranbandi 88 dog licence 70 Dreamtime storytelling 26, 29 Duncan, Jimmy 46 Dunghutti 66, 88
E Elliott (NT) 75 Encyclopaedia Botanica 20 Erambie Aboriginal Mission 56 G Galiwinku Island 65 Gama Festival of Traditional Culture 65 Gilbert, Shirley 74–75 Glen Innis 88 Gomebeeree 10 Goondiwindi 88 Grafton 60, 62 Groote Eylandt 70 Gudang 70 Gumbaynggirr 60 Gunditjmara 74 Gundungarra 6 Gurruwiwi, Aunty Dhanggal 64–65 H Halverson, Aunty Mavis 10 Hawkesbury Riverfarm Project (UWS) 45 health 79 Holcim MOU 11 Holden, Lynda 88–90 House, Aunty Matilda 56–58 Howe, William 20 I Indigenous Australian Studies Major 82 Indigenous Doctors’ Association 85, 87 K Kalaw Lagaw Ya 30 Kamilaroi 25, 34, 38, 55, 59 Kelly, Sister 52 Kellyville 44 Kempsey 38, 66–67 Kinchella Boys’ Home 67 Korean War 22 Kudjula 14 Kunni Gunni 76
L La Perouse 46 Lake Condah Mission 74 land rights 58 Lang, Jack 20 Larrakia 83 Lee, Aunty Sandra 10–13 Legacy 34 Leon, Tarren 94–95 Lewers Bequest 55 Liverpool 63 M McLaren, Jack 70 Macquarie, Governor Lachlan 12 Macquarie University 79, 93 Malayan Emergency 34 Marella Aboriginal Mission 55 Marne, Uncle Wes 26–29 medicine 79, 83, 85, 86–87 Meriam 30 midwifery 90 Milminyina, Aunty 64–65 Milperra CAE 38–39 Mittagong Boys’ Home 80 Moree 25, 55 Mt Annan 20 Mumumggirritj, Aunty Djapirri 64–65 Murray Island 30 Muru Mittigar 45 My Worimi Lovesong Dreaming (Newlin) 23 N Native Canadians 18 Native Title Services 91 Nepean CAE 82 Newlin, Uncle Norman 22–24 Newman, Paul 80–82 nursing 88, 90 O Office of State Revenue 44 OPAL (One People of Australia League) 72
P Palawa 26 Penrith 72 Penrith Regional Gallery 55 Perkins, Charlie 72 PhDs 62, 75, 91 Picton 91 Port Stephens 22 psychology 94 Q Quambone 80 Quartey, Aunty Thelma 30–33 R racism 91, 93 Reid, Professor Janice 65 Richmond Road hangings 12 Robinson, Aunty Mae 38–41 Rose Bay 74 Royal Australian Air Force 14, 17 Royal Australian Navy 83 S St Patrick’s orphanage (Armidale) 88 ‘The Sanctimonious Bastard’ (Newlin) 24 scabies eradication program 85 Shelley, Aunty Norma 59 Shepherdson, Harold 65 Shepherdson College 65 Shepparton 26 Simms, Uncle Greg 46–49 Slape, Dr Dana 83–85 Soil Conservation Service 82 Sorby, Uncle Rex 34–37 South Sydney Council 75 Stolen Generations 38, 55, 66–67, 80, 93 ‘Sweet Water’ (Newlin) 24 Sydney Harbour Bridge opening 47 T TAFE 79 Tahmoor 91 Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation 50, 66, 79 see also Dharawal/Tharawal
Thursday Island 70, 72 Toomelah Aboriginal Mission 38 Torres Strait 30 Townsville 32 TSRA (Torres Strait Regional Authority) 30 U Ulladulla 76 University of Melbourne 60 University of New England 62 University of Queensland 60 W Wannamoorah 55 Watson, Aunty Edna 42–43 Watson, Leanne 44–45 Wattie Creek 58 Weir, Dr Margaret Rose (née Williams) 60–62 Wellington, Uncle Ivan 50–53 Wellington (NSW) 80, 82 Western Plains Zoo 82 Westmead Hospital 83, 85 Whitlam, Gough 20 Wilkinson, Aunty Zona 54–55 Williams, Uncle Steve 63 Wiradjuri 6, 50, 63, 80 Wogooloo 56 Wollobooloola Parjong River 56 Worimi 22, 94 World War I 17 Woronora 18 Wran, Neville 20 Wright, Uncle Daryl 66–67 Wymarra, Aunty Pearl 32, 70–73 Y Yass 56 Yirrkala 65 Yirrkala Women’s Patrol 65 Yolgnu 65 Yuendumu 62 Yuin 46, 76 Batemans Bay 38 Budawang 86 Yunupingu, Mungurrawuy 65
Published on Dec 2, 2014
Commemorating the lives and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders, leaders and path makers at the University of West...