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2020 Swinburne Annual Barak Wonga Oration

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Event description

Swinburne University of Technology and the Moondani Toombadool Centre are proud to have Dr Lois Peeler AM, deliver this years Annual Barak Wonga Oration.

Lois Peeler is of Yorta Yorta heritage by her mother and Wurundjeri Heritage by her father. She grew up on her Mother’s country on the Murray River and the Cummeragunja Aboriginal Reserve. Lois’ family were part of the historic ‘Walk Off’ from Cummeragunja Aboriginal Reserve in 1939, the first-ever mass strike of Aboriginal people in Australia.

Lois has had a lifetime of involvement in Aboriginal community development. She has extensive experience in Aboriginal Affairs, having worked at a senior level of Federal and State Governments in the Aboriginal Affairs arena.

In 1983, Lois’ sister Hyllus Maris created Worawa Aboriginal College, Victoria’s only Aboriginal school. Today, as Principal of Worawa Aboriginal College, Lois oversees the management of a boarding school delivering holistic education through an integrated education, culture and wellbeing model whose students are from urban, regional and remote communities across the country.

In this oration, Dr Peeler will focus on the importance of a deepening engagement with the narratives of often unknown Aboriginal ‘heroes’ active in the Aboriginal struggle from colonisation to the present. 

Change-makers who, through their innate ability to instil in others hope for a better future, became recognised leaders. Refining this national inclination towards categorising Indigenous heroism and sacrifice as somehow different in quality and significance when compared to European achievements of the same period will be her impetus. 

Dr Peeler will suggest methods of progression to more profound listening to these narratives while establishing significant stories in our collective Australian consciousness. 

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