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Kulbardi’s eldest graduate blazes a trail for others to follow

Doris Hill and Gail McGowan

“My advice to Aboriginal women thinking about pursuing a career in research is to get the education needed to follow your dream, no matter what.”

Aunty Doris Hill is an inspiration to all around her.

The 78-year-old Noongar and Yamatji woman completed her Bachelor of Arts in Community Development at Murdoch University this year, continuing a lifelong journey of making the world a more caring and community-minded place.

The eldest of seven children, which grew to 13 children when her mum took in six of her cousins, Aunty Doris grew up in a large and busy family. 

“My mother, Helen Taylor, continues to inspire me every day. She cared for and raised two families in her short 44 years of life,” Aunty Doris said.

After missing out on high school, Aunty Doris spent her working life as a cleaner and later as an advocate for Aboriginal people, a role that she continues today through several research and volunteer positions.

She is an Elder Co-Researcher on Pride Yarns, a world first Elder-led intervention for improving the social emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ young people. 

She contributes in the same capacity to the Ngulluk Koolunga Ngulluk Koort (Our Children, Our Heart) Project at Telethon Kids Institute and also volunteers with young Aboriginal kids in a primary school. 

“It’s very important for us Elders to have input into Aboriginal research and education,” Aunty Doris said.

Many of our young ones are growing up feeling unwanted and unloved within the broader community, and its critical that we change that.”

In both instances, she is bringing the Aboriginal community of Perth together to develop culturally appropriate strategies to improve outcomes for young Aboriginal people and their families.

Its work that’s also at the heart of the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre, which supported both Doris and, before that, her grandson Professor Braden Hill through their degrees. Today, Professor Hill is Deputy Vice Chancellor Students, Equity and Indigenous at Edith Cowan University.

“Braden encouraged me to go to Kulbardi when he was there and, while I went through university slowly – doing one unit each semester – I’m proud that I did it,” Aunty Doris said.

Education is important and if I can do it, the kids can do it too.”

Far from finished with her contribution to the community, Aunty Doris has also been involved in an upcoming TikTok awareness campaign to support the Blak LGBTIQA+ community.

“My advice to Aboriginal women thinking about pursuing a career in research is to get the education needed to follow your dream, no matter what.”
 
Posted on:

4 Dec 2023

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