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Curtin University
John Curtin Day

2017 Award Ceremony

The John Curtin Medal is awarded by Curtin University to people who have made a significant contribution in their chosen field in Australia or internationally and who have exhibited John Curtin's qualities of vision, leadership and community service. Read more about the recipients.

John Curtin Medallists

Angela Ryder (2017)

Dr Ann O'Neill - 2016 John Curtin Medal recipient Angela Ryder - 2017 John Curtin Medal recipient

Angela Ryder is a wife, a mother and stepmother of nine, a grandmother to 19 grandchildren and two great grandchildren, and the epitome of self-sacrifice as a tireless and dedicated contributor to the Aboriginal community.

A Wilman/Goreng Noongar woman, Angela has established innovative and positive initiatives and programs to build independence in Aboriginal people and empower Aboriginal women. She has done this for many years, including through her role as Senior Manager of Aboriginal Services at Relationships Australia WA (RAWA), where she has worked for 10 years.

Her steadfast commitment to ensure better outcomes for all Aboriginal people is borne from her personal experience of hardship as a member of the Stolen Generation.

Originally from Katanning, Angela was removed from her family and placed in Wandering and Roelands missions between the ages of 8 and 12. Her mother was also a member of the Stolen Generation.

Angela did not complete Year 10 but worked hard to later gain entry and complete a Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations at Curtin University in 1998.

As one who experiences the lasting and real impact of the Stolen Generation on people’s lives, and through her professional experience, Angela came to recognise grief and suffering as major issues within sections of the Aboriginal community today. In one of the many hats she wears, she has implemented grief and loss counselling into programs she has developed.

These successful programs include the Moorditj Yoka Women’s Group. The group has been a source of support for many women, including Angela who, every Saturday during school terms, leads a group of women who come together at the Langford Aboriginal Association – which she was pivotal in creating in 2000 – to network and share stories of personal hardship.

Such storytelling is courageous for Aboriginal people, who are often unfamiliar with identifying and expressing emotions of loss and grief. They are encouraged to do so as a means to heal and empower, and to understand that ‘loss’ can include the loss of a job, relationship, property, dreams, goals or culture, in addition to the loss by death of a loved one.

As a volunteer, Angela has dedicated many hours applying for grants, meeting with community stakeholders, forging an effective partnership with the City of Gosnells and developing programs to inspire the participation of the Aboriginal community within the area.

She is working to develop an Aboriginal Aged Care and Community Hub facility for Elders across her community and sits on the Noongar Charitable Trust Advisory Council. She has long been involved in the delivery of NAIDOC celebrations in Perth and Gosnells and also works to implement the National Empowerment Project.

Through Relationships Australia WA, she brokered a partnership with the Women’s Law Centre to establish Djinda Services, a legal service which assists Aboriginal women affected by family violence and sexual assault.

Angela’s boundless commitment to the Aboriginal community is widely regarded and respected.

Her extraordinary capacity and contribution makes her a worthy recipient of the John Curtin Medal 2017.

John Curtin Medallists

Jim Morrison (2017)

Jim Morrison - 2017 John Curtin Medal recipient Jim Morrison - 2017 John Curtin Medal recipient

As the son of Stolen Generation parents, Jim Morrison has known but never let adversity intrude on his staunch and relentless advocacy for the human rights of Aboriginal people.

His father, Arthur Morrison, returned to Australia a Prisoner of War from Changi Prison after serving in World War Two, but did not benefit from war service homes like his non-Aboriginal comrades – he lived in the Native Reserve at Katanning. The family lived in tents and other temporary accommodation before moving into a house, when Jim was young. Despite the hard times, Jim and his siblings attended school.

Jim has worked at the frontline of Aboriginal affairs for more than four decades, dedicating not only his career, but also his life to create a better future for Aboriginal Peoples and to have the wrongs of the past redressed.

He understands acutely the traumatic effects of being forcibly removed from one’s family and has volunteered his time and skills substantially over many years to ensuring the Stolen Generations have opportunities to heal.

Jim’s is a large voice that speaks strongly for the voiceless.

On mental health, education, homelessness, incarceration and suicide, he has worked selflessly to bring these and other issues of social injustice and inequality experienced by Aboriginal people to the public’s attention.

He is an entertaining, skillful, authoritative communicator who brings clarity and fresh perspectives to complex issues, and his views are widely sought by organisations and the media nationally.

It became apparent to Jim a few years ago that a significant healing program was required in Western Australia for Stolen Generations survivors and their families. As co-convenor of the Bringing Them Home Committee (WA), Jim convinced the management committee to review and implement the 54 recommendations in the landmark 1997 Bringing Them Home report to deliver truth, justice and healing to his people.

Through the committee, he developed Yokai: Healing our Spirit, an initiative which offers access to community-led social and emotional wellbeing programs to members of the Stolen Generation and their families.

Unable to secure funding to enable him to work full-time on Yokai, Jim pursued his campaign in his spare time before opting to work on it full-time, without a salary.

He successfully obtained funding support recently, and has since been appointed Yokai’s executive director.

He has held significant leadership roles in government and Aboriginal organisations, including serving three consecutive terms as Aboriginal Chair of the National Stolen Generations Alliance and as Founding Chair of the Yokai Aboriginal Employment Forum through Reconciliation WA.

Fearless in the face of opposition, generous in spirit and tireless in his advocacy for what he believes is right for his people, Jim often quotes his friend and fellow ‘Noongar Warrior’, the late Rob Riley: “You can’t be wrong if you are right and you do not stop fighting for justice simply because those around you do not like it. Just keep on fighting!”

A senior Noongar man who has gained enormous respect by people in all spheres of society, Jim Morrison is indeed a worthy recipient of the John Curtin Medal for 2017.