This NAIDOC week, the team at Martha Travis People Innovators celebrated the contributions of Our Elders during our team meeting, by each team member presenting a story about their chosen Elder and why that person's story resonates with them.
Isabella shared the story of Uncle Harold (Harry) Allie of the Gudjala people; who was the first indigenous Elder of the Airforce. Isabella admires his contributions not only to his people and communities, but to the wider defence force and broader community.
Paul told us about Uncle Roger Knox of the Gomeroi people; who is a country musician who grew up in the Toomelah Aboriginal Mission and then moved to Tamworth at age of 17 to make his career in music. Paul admires him, for overcoming challenges including 2 consecutive plane crashes, severe burn injuries, pain-killers addiction to build a successful music career.
Penelope shared the story of Uncle Laddie (Hubert) Timbery of the Bidjigal clan; who was known as the "Boomerang Man" who travelled each weekend from his home in Nowra to LaPerouse to show his boomerang throwing skills and display his boomerang and other woodcraft art. Penny admired his amazing art, how he used his skills to teach young people and share his wisdom, but also his commitment to remaining barefoot at all times, maintaining his connection with country.
Lisa shared the story of Maria Lock; from the Boorooberongal clan of the Darug people; she was placed into the Native Institute in Parramatta where she learned to read and write. After marrying Robert Lock, an illiterate convict, she spent 12 years petitioning for the land grants that had been frustrated by the white settlers in the area. Lisa admires Maria as an Aboriginal woman in a mixed-race marriage, living in the 19th century and going up against the white patriarchy to gain access to the land that belonged to her family and people. Maria was also Lisa's great-great grandmother. The image is an artist's impression, created by Lisa's sister, Leanne Tobin.
Martha shared the story of Aunty Bev Manton of the Worimi people; who started life at the Karuah mission, gaining an education up to the age of 15. After this she went on to become a teacher and the first female chair of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. Martha admires how despite limited education, she has gone on to have great influence both within the Aboriginal community and the corporate business world, never losing her connections her people and her country.
Luisa told us about Uncle Jack Charles, who started life as one of the stolen generation, being raised in a Salvation Army Boys' Home. He suffered violence and sexual abuse, became a heroin addict, petty thief and was in and out of jail over 20 times. Despite these challenges, her had a successful career on stage and screen. Luisa admires him for overcoming his life challenges and becoming a supporter and advocate of indigenous prisoners and those from the LGBTQIA+ community.
Anita shared the story of Aunty June Atkinson-Murray, of the Wiradjuri people who started life on the Erambie Mission in NSW and who went on to earning an OAM in 2017 as the "Quiet Achiever" who made a significant impact on young people in Victoria with a focus on building confidence and resilience to help reduce the rate of suicide for young Aboriginal people, after her own grandson took his own life as a teenager. Anita admires Aunty June's selfless commitment to her causes and the difference she has made to helping prevent suicide - an issue that impacts all parts of the community.
This story sharing was a highlight of our day, with us all learning more about Aboriginal Elders and the amazing contributions they have made to their own people and the broader community, as well as learning a little more about each other and who we each admire and why.