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Curtin University
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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.