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John Curtin Medal honours two Indigenous leaders

Media release

Two Aboriginal leaders in their respective fields were today announced as the 2017 John Curtin Medallists at a special ceremony held at Curtin University.

The John Curtin Medal is awarded annually by the University to recognise individuals or organisations displaying the attributes associated with Australia’s World War II Prime Minister – vision, leadership and a commitment to community service. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the John Curtin Medal.

Jim Morrison, Executive Director of Yokai: Healing our Spirit, has worked selflessly at the frontline of Aboriginal rights for more than four decades dedicating not only his career, but also his life to creating a better future for Aboriginal peoples.

Angela Ryder, a member of the Stolen Generation who was removed from her family and placed in missions between the ages of 8 and 12, has established innovative and positive initiatives and programs to build independence in Aboriginal people and empower Aboriginal women.

In congratulating Mr Morrison and Ms Ryder, Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said both were very worthy recipients of the award and acknowledged their dedicated contribution to the Aboriginal community.

“Jim’s is a large voice that speaks strongly for the voiceless. As the son of Stolen Generation parents, he has known, but never let adversity intrude on his staunch and relentless advocacy for the human rights of Aboriginal people,” Professor Terry said.

“He has volunteered significant time over many years to ensuring the Stolen Generations have opportunities to heal.”

Mr Morrison has developed Yokai: Healing our Spirit, an initiative that offers access to community-led social and emotional wellbeing programs to members of the Stolen Generations and their families.

Professor Terry said Ms Ryder’s story was equally inspiring.

“As someone who experiences the lasting and full impact of the Stolen Generation on her life, and through her professional experience, Angela recognised grief and suffering as major issues within sections of the Aboriginal community,” Professor Terry said.

“Angela developed Moorditj Yoka Women’s Group and served for 15 years as the inaugural Chairperson of the Langford Aboriginal Association, a community-managed group that raises awareness about health and wellbeing issues.”

Angela has established positive initiatives to build independence in Aboriginal people and empower Aboriginal women through her role for the past 10 years as Senior Manager of Aboriginal Services at Relationships Australia WA (RAWA) and through her volunteer roles.

The John Curtin Medals are presented each year on, or close to, October 7, the anniversary of John Curtin’s accession to the office of Prime Minister in 1941.

The 2017 John Curtin Medallists join 42 other outstanding individuals and organisations that have been awarded Curtin University’s most prestigious non-academic award in the 20th presentation ceremony held since 1998.

This year’s recipients are also honoured during the University’s ‘50 Years of Innovation’ celebrations – recognising the combined history of the Western Australian Institute of Technology (WAIT), which opened its doors to students in 1967 and evolved into Curtin University in 1987.