Reference Group

The Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project Incorporated Reference Group comprises family members who are descended from the South West of Western Australia and are interested in publishing and promoting some of the stories from that area. The Group’s main objective is:

to reclaim Wirlomin stories and dialect, in support of the maintenance of Noongar language, and to share them with Noongar families and communities as part of a process to claim, control and enhance Wirlomin Noongar cultural heritage.

Hazel Brown, born in 1925, is the senior female Elder of an extended Noongar clan, is well known in the Noongar community and has earned its respect for her knowledge of language and culture. She has worked extensively as a rural labourer and was an inaugural member of the Metropolitan Commission of Elders. Hazel was the City of Albany’s 2012 Noongar Excellence Awards Elder of the Year, and is a registered Native Title Claimant. In 2005 Hazel co-authored the publication Kayang and Me with Kim Scott and has subsequently attended conferences and presented talks on her life, country, language and stories.

Helen Nelly (Hall) is one of the Stolen Generations and an acknowledged senior female Elder of the Wirlomin Noongar clan who has been inspired by the reclamation of her family stories and who has a natural talent for painting. She was born at Borden, Western Australia.

Ezzard Flowers currently works as a private consultant in Aboriginal affairs. He was formerly a community development mentor at the SWALC ’s Albany office. He was a 2015 joint recipient of the John Curtin Medal for his attributes of vision, leadership and community service for the important role they played in the repatriation of the Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork to Australia in 2013. Ezzard was instrumental in the return of Carrollup artworks from the USA and the Carrolup Artists Exhibition as part of the 2006 Perth International Arts Festival. He is the chairman of the Mungart Boodjar Aboriginal Corporation Ezzard has worked extensively in education, social work, as a participant in Indigenous Healing Arts Projects and as an Aboriginal Liaison Officer with the South Metropolitan Area Health Service, WA Department of Health and at the National Resource Management in Kojonup. In 2007 Ezzard received a Western Australian Multicultural Community Service award for preserving the cultural heritage of local Noongars. Ezzard is on the Board of Directors of the Aboriginal Arts Centre Hub of Western Australia.

Iris Woods is currently an Aboriginal Health Worker with the Great Southern Aboriginal Health Service. Previously she was an Indigenous Liaison Officer with the WA Department of Education’s Peel District Office where she worked promoting Noongar language and cultural activities and translated many children’s songs into Noongar. She is also a teacher of Noongar language with extensive experience and language skills. In 1995 Iris won the Barry Hayward Outstanding Achievement Aboriginal Individual Award. Iris was nominated for the Premier`s Active Citizenship Awards, Australia Day 2009, for services to her community. Iris is currently an adviser on the Board of Management of the Mandurah Youth Centre and a member of the City of Mandurah’s Aboriginal Advisory Group. She is also associated with the Koolbardies Talking Women’s Friendship Circle where Aboriginal and non Aboriginal women work together to learn about cultural differences and support projects that increase the capacity of Aboriginal youth through the development of life skills. Iris is also active the Bilyidar program for students who are in their 16th or 17th year of age and are interested in re-connecting with schooling, but not the traditional classroom type.

Kim Scott is an award-winning Noongar author who has worked extensively in Indigenous education and the arts.  Kim began writing for publication shortly after he became a secondary teacher of English.  His first novel, True Country, was published in 1993 and he has had poetry and short stories published in a range of anthologies.  Kim’s second novel, Benang, won the Western Australian Premiers Literary Award 1999, Australia’s premier literary prize, the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2000 (Kim was the first Indigenous author to win this Award), and the RAKA Kate Challis Award, one of Australia’s most valuable and prestigious national awards for Indigenous creative artists, in 2001.  His most recent novel, That Deadman Dance (2010) won the South-east Asia and Pacific Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Miles Franklin Award, the Victorian Premier’s Prize, the NSW Christina Stead Prize and Book of the Year, the South Australian Premier’s Prize, the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal Winner among other accolades. In 2012 it was published in the Northern Hemisphere by Bloomsbury.  His work has been translated and published in China, India, Holland and France.

Kim has had a varied and illustrious career in teaching/lecturing including as a secondary school teacher, co-ordinator of the Indigenous Enabling Course and Aboriginal Bridging Course, a Lecturer in the Associate Degree in Contemporary Aboriginal Art (Centre for Aboriginal Studies, Curtin University) and has tutored in Creative Writing.  He was awarded a Centenary Medal, and was 2012 Western Australian of the Year. Kim is currently employed as Professor of Writing in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University.

Roma Winmar/Yibiyung has worked significantly in Indigenous education and the arts where she is continuously working with promoting Noongar language and cultural activities and has translated many children’s songs into Noongar. She has extensive language skills and is presently employed as a Noongar language teacher at Western Australia’s Moorditj College. Roma was awarded the Barry Hayward Outstanding Achievement Aboriginal Individual Award, 2005. She has delivered sessions at conferences on language such as the Connecting with Aboriginal Languages Conference in 2007. Roma sits on the Department of Education’s Curriculum Council in setting standards and educational expectations for Noongar language taught at secondary and TEE levels. Roma was the language and cultural consultant on the play Yibiyung written by her daughter Dallas Winmar. Roma, under the name of Yibiyung, has worked with the Carrolup School of artists. Biographical cuttings on Yibiyung as artist are housed in the National Library of Australia in Canberra as a contemporary Noongar artist.

Connie Francis Moses was born in Gnowangerup and remembers hearing Noongar language before hearing English. She descended from the Moses and Yorkshire families of the south coast of Western Australia and is a proud member of the Wirlomin group. Connie is a qualified primary school teacher, has a degree in Aboriginal Studies and is currently studying Aboriginal Community Management. She is passionate about revitalising Noongar language and teaching younger generations.

Albert Knapp is a much-loved local Elder with extensive links across WA. He has been an Aboriginal pastor for many years and has attended and facilitated many funerals. He works in a very sensitive and respectful manner and is always available for families when they have lost a loved one. In his role as a pastor, Albert does extensive hospital visitations in Perth, in counselling, and outreach to country areas. For the past four years, Albert has worked with the Health Department to improve local health issues by advocating for a change in the way government works with, and provides services for, the Aboriginal community. Albert was acknowledged as the 2013 NAIDOC Perth Award for Elder of the Year.

Committee members not on the Reference Group

Olivia Roberts is a proud Wirlomin woman, she has broad shoulders and a big heart, having worked for decades in Aboriginal health throughout the Great Southern region. She has grown up with a strong family who have instilled the importance of heritage, culture, family values and respect for others. Olivia has been an executive board member for the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council and Aboriginal Legal Services.

Clint Bracknell is a Wirlomin Noongar musician, researcher and Associate Professor at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and Kurongkurl Katitjin Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research, Edith Cowan University. His Australian Research Council funded research focuses on the revitalisation of Noongar language and song. He has served on the committee for Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories since 2011. He is a member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language Advisory Board and the AIATSIS Research Advisory Committee. The University of Sydney’s 2017 Wingara Mura Excellence Award and Department of Education WA’ s 2010 Barry Hayward Outstanding Aboriginal Educator Award acknowledge his commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and cultural sustainability. He was awarded UWA’s 2016 Robert Street Prize for most outstanding PhD thesis and has spoken at national and international events about synergies between emerging technologies and Indigenous creative futures. He appreciates the ongoing guidance and mentorship of his Wirlomin family.

Recently deceased elders and family

Edward Brown (Sr) worked for decades in education, the public service, and as State Manager: External Liaison, with the National Native Title Tribunal from 1997 to 2004. Edward has played a crucial part in explaining native title to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Western Australia. He has promoted and shared his skills and knowledge about Indigenous culture with his community and with the Wirlomin Steering Committee. He was awarded the 2003 WA NAIDOC Aboriginal Public Servant of the year award. In 2008, Edward acted as a consultant for the City of Gosnells in their Waarnkinying Koora (talking histories) project. Edward employed at Derbarl Yerrigan, an Aboriginal Community Controlled organisation delivering a range of health services across multiple sites in Perth.

Russell Nelly was a Noongar artist and cultural worker. As an adult he lived in Warburton for many years and in that time was chosen to represent Warbuton Elders to the media in discussions pertaining to the recognition of Customary Law (2006). He was also appointed a mentor with the WA ministry of justice. Russell also undertook an overseas trip where he demonstrated Indigenous art in textile crafts. He was an author of Dwoort Baal Kaat.

Lomas Roberts was an Elder of the Wirlomin Noongar clan, father, grandfather and uncle to many people and was highly respected for his Noongar cultural knowledge. His working life included stints as shearer, plant operator, farm labourer and as a boxer he won bouts at state and national levels and was a major drawcard for George Stewart’s boxing troupe.

Gerald Williams (Sr.) was one of the senior male Elders of a Noongar clan. He was a Native Title applicant, and a member of South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council’s Wagyl Kaip Working Party and the Ravensthorpe Nickle/SWALSC Joint Working Party.

Gerald Williams (Jr.) was a member of South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council’s Wagyl Kaip Working Party and Ravensthorpe Nickle/SWALSC Joint Working Party. He was the next in line to take his father’s place as an Elder of the Wirlomin Noongar clan.

Geoffrey Woods was a highly respected painter who also painted under his ancestral name of ‘Pirup’ as Jeff Roberts Pirup and whose paintings were purely symbolic and representative of his country. He found inspiration from the land and the stories and culture of his Wirlomin people.