The Australian College of Applied Psychology’s Discipline of Social Work hosted a moving NAIDOC Week celebration in July featuring the spoken art history of special guest, Kanju and Biri woman and Gangari artist, Aunty Kathy Dodd Farrawell.
A selection of Aunty Kathy’s original paintings were on display at the event, which she referenced often to bring her stories to life for the audience of ACAP students, teachers and staff.
Describing the hardships and humour of her parents and grandparents from anecdotes handed down through ancestral story-telling and from her personal experiences, Aunty Kathy, who has lived in Glebe for more than 40 years, began the talk with her parents’ incarceration as young children in the early 1900s.
At the ages of about six, both her mother and father were detained in camps with their families, on Palm Island, and in Central Queensland, for several years. Using photocopies of family members’ personal records from those times, Aunty Kathy demonstrated the low regard for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders by Australian authorities, who numbered rather than named her parents, uncles and aunts in official government documents.
Many positive reminiscences and achievements by Aboriginal athletes, musicians and artists formed part of Aunty Kathy’s stories on the day. Special mention was made of sheep shears inventor David Ngunaitponi (known as David Unaipon), who is depicted on the Australian fifty-dollar note. He is also the subject of one of Aunty Kathy’s colourful paintings, which she uses to teach children at The Glebe Treehouse about the work and influence of Aboriginal people in modern times.
With this year’s NAIDOC Week theme being “Because of her we can”, Aunty Kathy’s presentation honoured her mother and grandmother for their grace and dignity in raising a large number of children in very harsh conditions.
Aunty Kathy closed her address by saying that for her community, NAIDOC, which stands for National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee, is not about a week’s recognition, but is “lived every day, every moment of our life.”
The event was organised by ACAP Social Work senior lecturer, Dr Noritta Morseu-Diop, Professor of Social Work, Sharon Moore, Industry and Alumni Manager, Meagan Johnson, and Sydney Campus Student Experience Manager, James Boggs.
Image caption, L to R: Kate Brennan, from Glebe Tree House; Dr Vanessa Lee, University of Sydney, Aunty Kathy Dodd Farrawell, Dr Noritta Morseu-Diop, and Associate Professor Sandra Phillips, UTS.