Marion’s Reconciliation Journey

On this closing day of National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June), we are sharing Marion’s story.

A proud, strong Nyoongar woman of the Ballardong and Wiilmen people of South West Western Australia, Marion showed incredible persistence and determination to find a new career after losing a long-time role.  Marion is now the Aboriginal Employment & Diversity Advisor at Main Roads.

This week, Marion’s message has been focused on our need to all work together to build positive, respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

Take a few moments to read Marion’s story in her words, and how she is contributing to closing the gap.

Marion's message this week is to work together to build positive, respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

Marion’s message this week is to work together to build positive, respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

Marion’s Reconciliation journey

Kaya, my name is Marion. I am the Main Roads Aboriginal Employment & Diversity Advisor. A proud, strong Nyoongar Woman of the Ballardong and Wiilmen people of South West Western Australia, and privileged to be a descendant of the world’s oldest living culture.  

Understanding National Reconciliation Week – 27 May to 3 June

We can’t truly understand Reconciliation without first understanding Sorry Day .  National Sorry Day has been held annually on 26 May, starting exactly one year after the tabling in Federal Parliament of Bringing Them Home 1997 – the report into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their families. (The Stolen Generations). Bringing Them Home revealed the devastating effects of the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families – an official government policy that went on for 150 years into the early 1970s. Between 45,000 and 55,000 Aboriginal children were stolen, between 1910 and 1970. 

My story

When I was five, I was sitting in the back of our family car with my two brothers when an old man with a black hat grabbed me by the arm and tried to drag me out the car window. Thankfully, my brothers held on to me and we all were screaming when my Mum came racing out of the store and chased the man away. To this day at the age of 60, I still see the black hat. I am so thankful that my Mum and brothers love me so much that they fought to keep me and not let me be a victim of the 1905 Act and become one of the stolen generation.

Marion, centre, with her parents and brothers Mark and Tom in the 1960's.

Marion, centre, with her parents and brothers Mark and Tom in the 1960’s.

My personal experience with the education system during my childhood and teenage years in the 1960’s was a very negative one. Being called an abo, boong, coon, nigger, teachers sending me out of the class room, children calling my Mum a boong, children calling my brothers boongs and coons and children saying that I was dumb and dirty because I was black instilled in me negative feelings of being Aboriginal. I have survived domestic violence, assault and racism.

However, I loved my sport and I have a beautiful loving family a safe place to go and a safe way of dealing with my frustration and isolation. I persisted in finishing school, and getting some jobs with private enterprise. I sat the Public Sector test, gained entry into the State Government, and built my way up over the years working in Aboriginal Employment and Training. Eventually I completed an Associate Diploma and Associate Degree in Indigenous Management and Development while working full time and raising a child alone.

So even though my life journey has been scary and painful at times, frustrating, challenging and complex, I am a proud Noongar woman standing strong and contributing to closing the gap through my social justice work within State Government throughout the past 40 years the best way I can.

Building positive, respectful relationships

Today Reconciliation involves building positive, respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians; enabling us to work together to close the gaps, and to achieve a shared sense of fairness and justice. The ultimate goal of reconciliation is to build strong and trusting relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

Infinite Reconciliation

This painting depicts this years theme “In this together”. It tells Marion’s story of Infinite Reconciliation, with the dolphins or teachers of man, as her Aunty taught her, encircling the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal hands, nurturing country together.

Thank you to Marion for sharing her personal story.