5 First Peoples That Made Aussie History

5 First Peoples That Made Aussie History
4 July 2021    Tammy Sofranic    0 comments
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In light of NAIDOC Week 2021, we've been celebrating and recognising the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within our communities.

Here’s our list of First Aussies who made a positive impact on Australia’s history and culture.

1. David Unaipon (1872-1967) – Inventor & Writer

Top facts:

  • David, originally named Ngarrindjeri, was known and respected as a preacher, inventor and writer.
  • He was the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander author and received great recognition for his book, The Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines.
  • He’s also known as the patent owner for a helicopter design based on the principle of a boomerang.
  • In case you never paid attention, David’s face is on Australia’s $50 note, see for yourself below! 
shutterstock.jpg

2. Mandawuy Yunupingu (1956-2013) – Singer, Musician, Songwriter

Top facts:

  • Mandawuy belonged to the Gumatj people.
  • He was the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student from Arnhem Land to complete a university degree.
  • In 1985 he started a band with his nephew Gurrumul Yunupingu, who also became famous as a multi-instrumentalist and singer. The band was called “Yothu Yindi”.
  • In 1991, Yothu Yindi gained national popularity with their hit song "Treaty". Click here to hear it. 
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Image via thetivoli.com.au
 

3. Linda Burney (1957) - Politician

Top facts:

  • Linda is a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation and was the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person to be elected to the NSW Parliament. She was also a pioneer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman to serve in the Australian House of Representatives.
  • Linda served for 14 years in the NSW Parliament as a member of Canterbury and has been committed to resolving First Peoples issues for more than 30 years. She fiercely fought for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights during her tenure, primarily focusing on education, reconciliation, politics, and the development of local communities both regionally and nationally.
  • She also served as the Labour shadow minister for Families and Social Services and the shadow minister for Indigenous Australians.
 
Linda-Burney.PNG
Image via lindaburney.com.au
 

4. Eddie Mabo (1963-1992) – Activist for First Peoples land rights

Top facts:

  • Eddie Mabo is considered one of Australia’s heroes for his activism and impact. 
  • He challenged the land ownership laws in Australia after discovering his people’s traditional land was legally owned by the Government. After ten years of devoted activism, on 3 June 1992, the High Court overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius ("nobody's land") and recognised the fact that First Peoples had lived in Australia for thousands of years and enjoyed rights to their land according to their laws and customs. Sadly, Mabo died of cancer only months before this announcement.
  • If you’re a film fan – there's a film called “Mabo” that tells his story and fight with the court or an older documentary “Mabo: Life of an Island Man”.
  • Fun fact: Mabo had 10 children!
 
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Image via indigenous.gov.au
 

5. Cathy Freeman (1973) – Athlete

Top facts:

  • Cathy Freeman was the star of the show at the 2000 Sydney Olympics after winning Gold in the 400m. It’s widely considered one of Australia’s greatest sporting achievements.
  • Freeman started athletics from an early age, competing in sprints, high jump and long jump.
  • She won multiple scholarships, was then selected for the relay team in the 1990 Commonwealth Games and won her first Olympic medal in 1996 in Atlanta.
  • Cathy currently serves as a positive role model, having created the Cathy Freeman Foundation, which aims to support Aboriginal youth in education.
 

Keen to learn more about Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements? Keep on reading below: 

Then, take the Career Quiz to find out which careers best match your skills!
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