Dr Carolyn Briggs AM

Dr Carolyn Briggs AM is a respected Elder of the Boonwurrung people, a clan of the greater Kulin nations.

Honour Roll

The 'Elder' title that carries with it a respect for her knowledge compassion, contribution, negotiation skills and dignity.

Carolyn has described how she draws inspiration from her great grandmother, Louisa Briggs, as both a model of strength and as someone who acted as a cultural link helping to keep alive her people's heritage. She also acknowledges the role that noted activist, educator and community leader Hyllus Maris played as a mentor in her life. Through her work she has continued this tradition of strength and heritage preservation.

She helped establish the first Aboriginal childcare centre in Dandenong in the 1970s, the Dja Dja Wrung Aboriginal Cooperative in Bendigo, and a large number of other community organisations. She has played a significant role in the struggle for recognition and rights for the Boonwurrung people, which culminated in the first Aboriginal land use agreement for the Melbourne area. She has also made substantial contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts through her involvement with the Ilbijerri Theatre Company and as a patron of the innovative Somebody's Daughter Theatre Company.

Carolyn has also made a very personal contribution to the welfare of Aboriginal people in Victoria. She was one of three Victorian Investigators into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and, as well as raising her own family, has acted as a foster parent for other Aboriginal children. She has also worked to provide culturally appropriate services at the Royal Women's Hospital.

As a role model for younger generations of Aboriginal women, she has shown that they can be brokers of change, not only as mothers and nurturers, but also as political and cultural advocates. Underpinning all this work has been her cultural knowledge and her willingness to pass this knowledge on to others. "When you take young people out into the bush and they see what concepts like sharing and family really mean, it's always inspirational. It makes you think "yes we are going to get there'."