Charles Darwin University (CDU) honorary PhD recipient Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann has been named Senior Australian of the Year in recognition for her life’s work as a teacher, artist, activist and writer.
Dr Ungunmerr Baumann became Australia’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in 1975 and was later awarded an Honorary PhD in Education from CDU in recognition of her leadership in education.
Speaking from Canberra where she accepted the prestigious award, Dr Ungunmerr Baumann said she was thrilled to be recognised for her work.
“It’s exciting in the sense that now that it’s out there officially how I’ve been acknowledged in what I do and what I’ve been doing,” she said.
“Getting (non-Indigenous people) to better understand how we live and function in our communities and the issues that go with it.
“And how people like myself and other leaders in and around the various communities in the Territory do their best, we do our best, to try and make our lives better.”
As an art consultant for the Department of Education, Dr Ungunmerr Baumann visited schools through the Top End, advocating for the inclusion of visual art as part of every child’s education.
She later became the principal of the Catholic school in her home community of Nauiyu/Daly River before being appointed to the Federal Government’s advisory body, the National Indigenous Council.
In 2013, she established the Miriam Rose Foundation, to bridge the divide between Aboriginal culture and mainstream society – driving reconciliation at a grassroots level.
Through her professional and creative life, Dr Ungunmerr Baumann has remained dedicated to maintaining the cultural independence of her people and being a spokesperson for the Aboriginal worldview.