One of Western Australia’s most passionate advocates for Aboriginal health and social equity has been honoured for her life’s work.
Professor Rhonda Marriott from Murdoch University was inducted into the Western Australian Women’s Hall of Fame last night at a ceremony in Government House.
Professor Marriott has worked tirelessly to identify ways to help Aboriginal families become healthier and more resilient over the course of her 50-year career in nursing, midwifery and academia.
A quiet achiever
She said to be an inductee alongside so many deserving and incredible women was ‘awe-inspiring’ as she was a quiet achiever and not used to such personal recognition.
“I hope this recognition motivates and supports other women to strive to always be the best they can be,” Professor Marriott said.
She also said she was humbled to be receiving the honour as International Women’s Day is a focal point in the movement for women's rights and this year highlights equity with its theme of ‘Balance for Better’ .
“International Women’s Day is an opportunity for everyone, everywhere to celebrate the women in their lives – be they wives, or life partners, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins, friends or colleagues,” Professor Marriott said.
It inspires us to reflect, to celebrate our diversity and to acknowledge the important difference we all make in the lives of others.
“Like many of my peers, I was the first woman and also the first in my family to achieve a University degree and have inspired other women in my family to follow a higher education/learning pathway.”
Professor Marriott is an Aboriginal woman who was born in Derby, Western Australia. She is a descendent of Nyikina people through her mother, and also has Scottish and Irish heritage from her father. She said her parents’ decision to move to Perth from Derby when she was a child had opened up many opportunities for her.
Joining Murdoch University in 2003 as the inaugural Head of the School of Nursing, Rhonda became the first known Aboriginal head of a University School of Nursing in Australia. She has played an important role in Murdoch University’s development in health sciences for many years, and was recently appointed as Murdoch University’s first Pro Vice Chancellor, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Leadership.
In her current role as the inaugural Director of the Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity at Murdoch University, Professor Marriott is developing ways to change the health, educational and social outcomes for Aboriginal families.
Her colleagues at Ngangk Yira were among the people Professor Marriott wanted to thank for their support throughout her journey.
“They help bring my dreams for change and making a difference to life. Without such wonderful women, the journey would have been very lonely and much less successful,” she said.
“I’d also like to acknowledge my husband for unconditionally supporting my career decisions and goals that have led me to always trying to do what I felt was core to my existence – ‘making a difference’ to others.”
WA Women's Hall of Fame
Launched as part of the IWD centenary year celebrations in 2011, the Hall of Fame acknowledges the achievements of Western Australian women from all walks of life, from all regions in the State, and from a myriad of diverse cultural backgrounds, recognising their achievements, and the difference they have made to the lives of other Western Australians.
This year’s 14 inductees have been selected from eight categories; Community, Business, Health, Education, The Arts, Culture, Sport and STEM.The WA Women’s Hall of Fame is supported by ISHAR Multicultural Women’s Health Centre and sponsored by Lotterywest, and the Department of Communities.