Mary Graham

Age: 64

Family background:
I was born in Brisbane and grew up in Southport on the Gold Coast in Queensland. I belong to the Kombu-merri Clan on my father’s side and with the Waka Waka Clan through my mother. Both of my parents are deceased but were very influential in my life. There are lots of Clan relatives on both sides of my family. I came from a large immediate family – seven siblings, six of whom are deceased. I’ve never married and I have one son. I live in Southport with my remaining brother and my son, who are both single.

Work and/or community experience:
I’ve worked in the Aboriginal Community in Brisbane for the last thirty or so years in such areas as Child Care, Native Title, Action Research and community development.

I have lectured for several years at the University of Queensland on subjects in Aboriginal history, politics, and philosophy. I’ve written some papers on the same topics. I’ve been on (and remain on) several Boards and Committees at State and National level dealing with Aboriginal matters, including two Ethics Committees.

Most of my experience and greatest interest has been in community projects that support/enable Aboriginal people’s empowerment and the re-construction of our communities. I continue to do project and research work part time with a Stronger Indigenous Families organisation in Brisbane.

Reasons for interest in the project:
From my long involvement in community development in general and in particular Aboriginal development, I feel this project holds great promise for a new and inventive method for tackling broad social issues and organising collective planning while retaining autonomy.

Personally, like so many Aboriginal people, I’m tired of the relentless failures of bad government policies with regard to social poverty and dysfunction in Aboriginal communities and families. Indigenous people do have imagination, strengths and moral grounding enabling them to address challenges in cooperative ways and there is a need for these capacities to be explored fully.

Areas to explore during the project:
How do diverse peoples collaborate, maintain good relations, pursue good culture and retain autonomy at the same time? How is this done across cultural/social/historical boundaries?