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Dorothy Murray

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Dorothy Murray

Awarded for service to Aboriginal Affairs

Born: 1941

Entered on roll: 2013


A 'no fuss' person who gets on with the job.

Aboriginal Elder Dorothy Murray is well respected for her work in advancing Aboriginal people in a social justice framework.

Dorothy was born on Cape Barren Island on 2 March 1941. At the age of 15 she was assisting and teaching Aboriginal children in Grades 1 and 2 at the Cape Barren Island Primary School.

As one of the founders and the administrator of the Aboriginal Elders Council of Tasmania, Aunty Dorothy created a culturally sensitive meeting place for Aboriginal people, and organised and negotiated programs for her community including: Home and Community Care; Meals on Wheels; bingo; National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee activities; Elder support and assistance; cultural trips; shell necklace making workshops; and art activities.

Art activities organised by Aunty Dorothy played an important role in promoting Aboriginal people and their culture. She negotiated a large black and white photographic exhibition by Ricky Maynard, which showcases Elders and proudly hangs on the walls of the Chambers Hall in Launceston.

The 'Through Our Eyes' quilt making workshops she organised reflect the culture, family and community and tell stories of mutton-birding, shell necklace making and the Aboriginal soldiers from Cape Barren Island. The quilts are treasured by the Aboriginal community.

Aunty Dorothy helped break down barriers and build tolerance and understanding through the Department of Education's Aboriginal Speakers Program. She visited schools in the North of the State and taught Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children about the rich cultural practices of her people.

She is the female singer for the Aboriginal band Island Co's that sings and plays unique Cape Barren Island music that evolved from the sealers.

Aunty Dorothy has been a volunteer on a number of committees including the Cape Barren Island Council, Tasmanian Aboriginal Children's Association, Aboriginal Land and Sea Council, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and Elders Council of Tasmania.

Aunty Dorothy was awarded a NAIDOC Message Stick by the National NAIDOC Committee in 2012.

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