2017 Annual Barak-Wonga Oration - Walking in two worlds: Can Reconciliation lead us together onto a single pathway for a more just and equitable outcomes for all?


The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) celebrates forty years since our founding this year. In 1991 when the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody made its recommendation about a Reconciliation process to address the alienation of Aboriginal people in our own land, we were barely fifteen years old yet much of that report focused on failings in child and family welfare. Our struggle to address the disproportionate removal of our kids from our families led us into fields of service and endeavour we did not expect to go down, nevertheless the path we chose – at times found ourselves on – has brought us to a point where we have shaped child welfare in this country. VACCA’s services reflect the beginnings of an Aboriginal model of child and family welfare that is based on the principle of the right of Aboriginal people to self-determination. Forty years on and we are now working in partnership with a state government and a sector that is determined to apply the principle of self-determination to Aboriginal affairs most notably through its discussions with us about a Treaty. What all this means for Swinburne University will be one of the issues that the Oration will tackle.

Created by

Muriel Bamblett (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency)

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Barak-Wonga Oration




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What is the Barak-Wonga Oration?

The Swinburne Annual Barak-Wonga Oration is named in honour of two significant Aboriginal leaders, William Barak and Simon Wonga.

The oration is a key element of Swinburne’s RAP and is designed to advance understandings in the wider community on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.

About the presenter

Adjunct Professor Muriel Bamblett Hon DLittSW AM is a Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung woman who has served as Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency since 1999. Muriel was Chairperson of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care for 10 years (the peak agency representing Indigenous Child and Family Services nationally) and was awarded a Lifetime Associate Membership.

Muriel is active on many boards and committees concerning children, families and the Indigenous community. These include the Victorian Children’s Council; the Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group; the Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum and the Aboriginal Justice Forum.

Muriel has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the Centenary of Federation Medal; the 2003 Robin Clark Memorial Award for Inspirational Leadership in the Field of Child and Family Welfare; the Women’s Electoral Lobby Inaugural Vida Goldstein Award; and in 2011, was inducted into the 2011 Victorian Honour Roll of Women and was a finalist for a Human Rights Medal with the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Muriel was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2004 Australia Day Honours for her services to the community, particularly through leadership in the provision of services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

In 2009, she was appointed by La Trobe University as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Work and Social Policy.

This year Muriel was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in Social Work by the University of Sydney in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Aboriginal child and family welfare.

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