Thoughts from alumna, Erica Jolly following the 2018 Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration

Friday 8 June 2018

Erica Jolly (MA(Hums)(Res) ’78, CUniv ’97) has the longest unbroken record of giving to Flinders University, and currently supports a scholarship for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student studying Education or Special education.

I am always proud of Flinders University when I see this University, with the University of Adelaide, supporting the advancement of this continent’s First Nations. To be present in the Bonython Hall on Tuesday, May 29th 2018 when Professor Daryle Rigney of the Office of Indigenous Strategy and Engagement at Flinders University introduced Noel Pearson as the guest at this the 12th Annual Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration was to be present at an important moment in Australia’s history. His subject was ‘The Uluru Statement from the Heart – One Year On.’

First, Noel Pearson reminded us that South Australia was the first State in the Commonwealth to choose an Aboriginal Elder, Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls as the Governor of this State. People might know that he was an Indigenous player in the AFL and the Indigenous Football Round is named for him. People might not know that this Indigenous Elder had been one of the Aboriginal people with his great uncle William Cooper who, to protest against the treatment of Jews by Nazi Germany, organised a petition with the Australian Aboriginal League to condemn the persecution of the Jewish population following Kristallnacht. It was the ‘Night of Broken Glass’, November 1938 when the German government did nothing to protect its Jewish citizens from violent attacks across the country.

One Year On, in his Oration, Noel Pearson presented a picture of Australia for Australians that all of us can be proud of. The 60,000 years of the world’s oldest living culture acknowledged, recognised and with their voice heard in the life of this nation. The British institutions we have inherited that are central in the lives of all our people: parliaments at State and Federal level democratically elected by citizens; an insistence that we commit to the quality of the nation through compulsory voting; an executive connected with the parliament able to be scrutinised; the rule of law; trial by jury; the separate independent State-based judiciary and the High Court of Australia that threw out the ‘Terra Nullius’ edict. Third in this trinity – the vibrant multi-cultural nature of the nation we are. Noel Pearson reminded us, “Our stories entwine each generation.’ It is not too late to have the Uluru Statement from the Heart presented to parliament.

Erica Jolly
Former member of Flinders University Council and the Academic Senate

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