A huge congratulations to renowned artist, activist, writer and public speaker Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM, who recently became the Senior Australian of the Year for 2021.
Dr Ungunmerr Baumann is an Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu, in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory. She has been leading the way for Indigenous people since 1975, when she became the NT’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher.
She founded the Merrepen Arts Centre in Nauiyu in 1986 and has worked for many years to encourage elders in Aboriginal communities to pass along artistic techniques to the younger generation.
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 before being appointed to the National Indigenous Council, the Federal Government advisory body.
In 2013, she established the Miriam Rose Foundation, to bridge the divide between Aboriginal culture and mainstream society – driving reconciliation at a grassroots level.
In recognition of her leadership and achievements over decades, she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia medal in 1998 and an Honorary PhD in education from Charles Darwin University in 2002.
The Australian of the Year Awards website says: “Through her professional and creative life, Miriam-Rose has remained dedicated to maintaining the cultural independence of her people and being a spokesperson for the Aboriginal world view.”