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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.