It is with great pleasure that I introduce our very first guest writer for our Library blog. Madeline in Senior MY has written a very informative piece about poet and writer Oodgeroo Noonuccal.
See more of Madeline's work on her blog Meet Me (M@del!ne)
Oodgeroo was born in 1920 and she was born on Stradbroke Island, (the indigenous call it Minjerriba) Queensland. She was best known as a poet, although she was also an actress, a writer, a teacher, an artist and a campaigner for Aboriginal rights.She left school at the age of 13, and worked as a domestic servant until 1939. She volunteered for service in the Australian Women’s Army Service.
Oodgeroo achieved national prominence as the Queensland State Secretary of the Council for the Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (CAATSI). She also achieved another prominence through her highly popular poetry and writing. Oodgeroo became the first published Aboriginal woman with her verses ‘We are going’ which sold out in three days. Oodgeroo also wrote a lot of books for children – Father Sky and Mother Earth (1981), Little Fella (1986), and The Rainbow Serpent (1988) with the help of her son – Kabul Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Vivian). She was included in ‘Aboriginal rights’ organisations. Oodgeroo was very young when she started poetry and in her late forties a writer encouraged her to publish them. She kept writing and became recognised all over the world.
In the 1960s, Oodgeroo campaigned for Aboriginal rights. Until then Aboriginal Australians didn’t have the right to vote. Oodgeroo did everything she could to create gender equality. She travelled across Australia, giving as many as ten talks a day. The campaigning paid off after fighting so hard. In 1967 the indigenous finally had the right to vote. Oodgeroo Noonuccal continued to fight for her rights. She travelled the world, telling others about the dreadful conditions for the Torres Strait Islanders. But she didn’t believe that people were listening to her. In her frustration, she decided that she would go back to her favourite place – Moongalba, (the Noonuccals call it this) which means ‘sitting down place. It’s very sacred to them. But the Government said that they owned Moongalba and Oodgeroo wasn’t allowed to build anything there. She wanted to turn it into an Aboriginal museum. She decided the only way that she could stay on her land, was to camp there. Oodgeroo invited children, both black and white, and shared her land with them and showed them the aboriginal ways.
When Oodgeroo Noonuccal died, lots of people were upset, but that’s not what she wanted. Oodgeroo wanted people to celebrate her achievements and to continue working for a better future for the indigenous. Oodgeroo’s was a role model for all Australians. Someone who strived for true respect and understanding between both the white and black communities.
Thank you Madeline for a beautifully written and thoughtful Author study. Oodgeroo Noonuccal was a very talented and amazing woman.