JIM POULTER, Secretary, received the 2012 Citizen of the Year Award for his civic contributions to the City of Manningham and his lifelong service to the Aboriginal community, having been nominated by Wurundjeri Council Elder Bill Nicholson. Jim’s great-great grandparents were pioneers in the Manningham area and on arriving in 1840 established close relationships with the Wurundjeri people which he continues to this day. Jim has written a number of Aboriginal theme books with the assistance and blessing of iconic Aboriginal Elders such as Reg Saunders, Banjo Clarke and Reg Blow. He is probably best known for having identified the tribal football game of Marngrook as a precursor to Australian Football. All Jim’s books and his complete biography can be viewed on his website: www.jimpoulter.com
LINDSAY ROBERTS, Treasurer, had his first and ‘wonderful’ close contact with Aboriginal people many years ago when hosting two young Aboriginal men for a World Council of Churches conference. As part of a church group which spent a weekend as “guests” of Yorta Yorta people in the Barmah Forest, Lindsay continued to work focusing on and fostering understanding of Aboriginal issues. A highlight of more recent times for Lindsay was being part of the crowd at Federation Square in February 2008 for the television broadcast of the Apology by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the Stolen Generations.
Lindsay believes reconciliation today involves acknowledgement and recognition of aboriginal culture, plus acknowledgement of past and present injustices with positive action to foster justice now. ‘A spirit of good will, cooperation and respect by indigenous and non indigenous people towards each other is essential,’ he says.
GWYN ROBERTS, Committee Member and past President, in the 1990′s was on a Victoria-wide Aboriginal Interest Group Uniting Church Committee and was an inaugural member of DONT which became Reconciliation Manningham, and still receives some support from the Pilgrim Uniting Church. Gwyn enjoyed hosting Aboriginal people and camping with them and continues sharing activities and events with Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people seeking Reconciliation. She believes that education in the culture, history and present situation of Aboriginal people is important to all members of the Australian community.
BRIDGET HALGE, President says, “Arriving in Australia over 40 years ago, I was dismayed to find that there was no Indigenous content in history teaching in either primary or secondary schools. All studies in history began with white settlement.
Over the years as a Curriculum Coordinator, I ensured that each year children were taught at least one unit of work in Aboriginal studies. My first close contact with indigenous people took place when I visited Palm Island during my long service leave, spending time getting to know families and teaching children in the primary school, giving me first hand knowledge and experience of the deprivations and disadvantages our first peoples endured due to the policies of the colonizers – and still do.
Soon after I retired from teaching, I joined our reconciliation group, which was called DONT (Defenders of Native Title) then changed to ANTAR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) and is now Reconciliation Manningham. We welcome anyone who is interested in working with us (in any small way) to advance reconciliation between indigenous people and the rest of us who have subsequently made their country our home.”
KRISTEN CHISHOLM, recently joined Committee Member says, I was a librarian at the National Library in Canberra during the 70′s and 80′s so I was able to join several demonstrations about land rights on the Old Parliament House lawns, the site of the present Tent Embassy. When my husband retired, we did the grey nomad trip round Australia, talking to many aboriginal people, visiting many information displays and at times being appalled at the living conditions and disadvantage still suffered by some aboriginal groups in the 21st century. Our daughter Brigit worked with ATSIS helping with marketing for the Aboriginal Studies Press while our son has visited aboriginal communities in the NT and taught aboriginal kids in Canberra. We all admire the way the aboriginal people have coped so intelligently with the many disadvantages brought about by white invasion/settlement. I hope by joining this group, I can play a small part in furthering understanding about our fellow Aboriginal Australians, especially for the more recent migrants to our country.
MARGARET GRAHAM, Founding Committee Member.