Dr Lois Peeler to explore Indigenous spirit at virtual Dungala Kaiela oration

Dr Lois Peeler
Dr Lois Peeler AM will deliver the 2020 Dungala Kaiela Oration. Photo: supplied

Proud Yorta Yorta woman, activist and educator Dr Lois Peeler will explore how respect for Indigenous knowledge could and should change modern Australia at this year's annual Dungala Kaiela Oration on Wednesday, 9 September.

Dr Peeler is Executive Director/Principal of Australia's only Aboriginal girls' boarding school, Worawa Aboriginal College, and has held senior positions in the community and public sectors.

Her oration, 'The River is Us - Carrying the Spirit and Strength of Dungala', will explore how Aboriginal knowledge and narrative have mainstream importance for survival, emotional health and the general wellbeing of all humanity.

The annual Dungala Kaiela Oration celebrates Aboriginal cultural identity with the goal of creating a shared vision for the people of the greater Goulburn Valley region and promoting Aboriginal development.

Traditionally the evening is co-hosted at the Rumbalara Football Netball Club in Shepparton on Yorta Yorta country, by the Kaiela Institute and the University of Melbourne, however due to coronavirus (COVID-19) the event will be broadcast online.

Following the oration, Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams will provide a reply and the evening’s proceedings will conclude with a panel discussion with Dr Peeler, Professor Deborah Cheetham and Dr Lou Bennett. The Dhungala Children’s Choir will also perform at the opening and conclusion of the event.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said the event highlights the University’s commitment, ongoing friendship and partnership with the Kaiela Institute, and to the Shepparton community and Goulburn Valley region.

“The Dungala Kaiela Oration is a great occasion that I was privileged to attend last year,” Professor Maskell said.  “Although I’d much rather attend the Oration in person, I’m looking forward to listening from home to Dr Peeler, Minister Williams and the other panellists.

“Indeed, one of the benefits of hosting a virtual Dungala Kaiela Oration this year is it will be more accessible to people both locally and internationally. As a result, I expect this year’s Oration will not only continue to inspire many people in Victoria, but people around Australia and all over the world.”

Kaiela Institute Executive Director and Rumbalara Football Netball Club President Paul Briggs said the oration is both an acknowledgement of the importance of our story and the resilience of Yorta Yorta people as well as a proud 15-year partnership with the University of Melbourne.

“It’s a relationship that is contributing to the future of our people in building our aspiration for education, for building indigenous knowledge, and for tackling it through the building of infrastructure like the Munarra Regional Centre for Excellence,” Mr Briggs said.

“The purpose of this, the 12th Dungala Kaiela Oration, is to question, to stimulate and to inspire us all to drive a better future for our people. The event allows us to invoke and reflect on the invincible spirit of our people, the Nanyak.”

What: Dungala Kaiela Oration

When: Wednesday, 9 September, 6pm

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About Dr Lois Peeler: Dr Lois Peeler AM is of Yorta Yorta and Wurundjeri heritage who grew up in Shepparton. She is  Executive Director/Principal of Australia's only Aboriginal girls' boarding school, Worawa Aboriginal College founded by her sister, Aboriginal visionary Hyllus Maris. Dr Peeler  has held senior positions in the community and public sectors. Her diverse public career includes being the first Aboriginal model and television presenter. One of the original Sapphires that toured Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam War, whose story has been celebrated in the award-winning film of the same name. Dr Peeler has been recognised for her work in the community, including being awarded the Order of Australia in 2014 for her service as an educator, advocate and role model. In 2017 she was conferred an Honorary Doctorate (Social Science) by RMIT University and awarded 2017 Senior Victorian Australian.