‘Everyday Australians’

Many of us will have been watching the updates following the Queen’s passing, saturating the media in print, on television, and social media.

The Queen’s funeral on Monday has been carefully planned. What may have come as a surprise was the opportunity for 10 ‘everyday Australians’ to accompany the Prime Minister and Governor General to the Queen’s funeral. The PM says the 10 guests represent Australian culture and values.

The invitees include the Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott, Senior Australians of the Year from this year and last, Valmai Dempsey and Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, “local heroes” Shanna Whan, Saba Abraham and Kim Smith, the Western Australian Australian of the year, Helen Milroy, the South Australian Young Australian of the Year, Trudy Lin, the i4give Day founder, Danny Abdallah, and the Australian Racing Hall of Fame’s Chris Waller.

So much could be said about each. Today, a focus on Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM, who is a devout Christian – baptised as a Catholic aged 15 years of age, she became the first Indigenous teacher in the Northern Territory in 1975, and later became Principal of St Francis Xavier Catholic School. In 2021 she was named Senior Australian of the Year.

She was surprised by the invitation but accepted: “It’s for my community and my family and people here, and hopefully it’s for all of Australia.” (see ABC video here)

The ABC News reports: Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann is widely respected in the Northern Territory and beyond for her advocacy on behalf of members of the Stolen Generation. She was just a child when her two-year-old sister, Pilawuk White, was forcibly removed from her family under the Australian government’s assimilationist policies. Since reconnecting with her sister 14 years later, Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann has called for the Commonwealth to pay compensation for victims in the NT. She has also dedicated her life to giving Aboriginal children the skills to navigate Western and traditional culture.