ACU researcher Lynette Riley has already gained widespread recognition for her work in Indigenous education and on Wednesday she became part of Australian history.
When Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, delivered her first speech as the Labor MP for the New South Wales seat of Barton, it was Ms Riley who sang her in from the public gallery with a song of welcome and celebration.
“I have known Linda since I was in my early 20s and it was amazing and an honour to be part of her special day,” Ms Riley said.
“She was going into parliament to represent a whole lot of different people but as an Aboriginal woman it was really important that she was made welcome in a culturally appropriate way.”
Ms Riley is keen to see that the cultural backgrounds of all those representing Australia in parliament are acknowledged.
“It is really important that if we are going to have a parliament that represents all people that we should have traditions that welcome all people and different cultural traditions are recognised and included,” she said.
“So let’s make some new traditions.”
Ms Riley also made the kangaroo-skin cloak the new Shadow Minister for Human Services wore. The cloak featured Ms Burney’s Nation Totem, the goanna, and her personal Totem, the white cockatoo – ‘the noisy messenger bird'.
A Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi woman from Dubbo and Moree, Ms Riley has more than 30 years’ experience working as a teacher and in Indigenous education and administration at schools, universities, TAFEs and state education offices across New South Wales.
She has completed her thesis study called 'Conditions of Academic Success for Aboriginal Students’ at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education (IPPE).
IPPE is ACU’s largest research institute. It focuses on leading world-class scientific research in positive psychology and education that encourages disadvantaged individuals and groups to thrive and flourish.