La Trobe welcomes Aunty Joy Murphy

La Trobe University has established a new post of University Elder and Aunty Joy Murphy AO has been appointed to the role, cementing the University's long-standing relationship with the Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

La Trobe Chancellor Adrienne E Clarke AC said the senior Wurundjeri Elder – great grandniece of William Barack, the last traditional Wurundjeri 'ngurungaeta' or clan head – will be inaugural University Elder for three years.

University Elder

'La Trobe University has a heritage of significant engagement with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community, including a long-standing relationship with Aunty Joy Murphy,' Professor Clarke said.

'We are delighted Aunty Joy has accepted this appointment, which highlights our commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and we warmly welcome her as a member of the La Trobe community.

'As La Trobe University Elder she will formalise the work she has done in providing advice on culture and curriculum, and also carrying out ceremonial roles,' she said.

Expansion of Indigenous education is a significant part of La Trobe's new Future Ready Strategy, with plans to double the number of Aboriginal students over the next five years.The University will next year commence an online Indigenous Studies module introducing all students to Aboriginal knowledge and values, engaging them with the richness of Indigenous perspectives and culture.

The new position follows the appointment last year of Aboriginal educationist Professor Mark Rose as La Trobe's Executive Director of Indigenous Strategy and Education.

Professor Rose has a long relationship with Bachelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education.

'Aunty Joy Murphy's new role acknowledges the significant role Elders can play in helping embed Aboriginal knowledge in the fabric of universities and society in general,' Professor Rose said.

With about 170 Indigenous students and 30 staff, La Trobe carries out multi-disciplinary teaching, learning and research in Indigenous Australian studies across all its faculties and campuses.

It is a partner in the Federal Government's Co-operative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and the Lowitja Institute, which work to improve health service and policy.

La Trobe also plays a leading role in 'Closing the Gap' in educational and employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

Professor Rose said the appointment of Aunty Joy Murphy also follows last year's Behrendt review of higher education access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which said:

'Universities that formally recognise the role of Elders in university business offer a model for other institutions, both in terms of engagement with local communities and embedding in a practical way the principles of national reconciliation.'

Additional biographical details

Aunty Joy Murphy is a significant and highly regarded Elder of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations. As a senior Elder she has welcomed royalty, presidents, dignitaries and thousands of other people to the land of her ancestors.

Aunty Joy Murphy is an Ambassador for BreastScreen Victoria, Australia Day Victoria and Zoos Victoria. She has been a trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria, a member of the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria as well a member of the Victoria Police Ethical Standards Consultative Committee.

She also co-chaired the Royal Commission Review into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 2003 -2005. In 2002 she was awarded the Victorian Aboriginal Women's Award and in 2006 she was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 'for her service to the community, particularly the Aborigines, through significant contributions in the fields of social justice, land rights, equal opportunity, art and reconciliation.

Media contact:

Leah Humphrys, Media and Communications

t: 03 9479 5353

Find an expert

Search our experts database.