Family and Country connections inspire June to dream big

June Oscar AO is completing her PhD research at Notre Dame’s Broome Campus

15 February 2017

Notre Dame PhD candidate, June Oscar AO, is drawing upon generations of family stories to explore the knowledge and traditions that have inspired her to become one of the most influential women in the world for improving the lives of those living in Aboriginal communities.

June’s research project attempts to uncover the motivations, inspirations and personal struggles on her journey from growing up on a cattle station in the Kimberley, to graduating from university, and firmly planting her feet as a central figure of leadership and hope in the Australian community.

Studied through the Nulungu Research Institute on Notre Dame’s Broome Campus, June will use an auto ethno-biographical approach to recount her story, and those of her mother and grandmother, as Bunuba women, and how the messages of inspiration contained within have helped her to contribute to Australian people.

“As a Bunuba woman, I have acquired confidence in my own identity and worldview which has informed me of who I am and my ability to enact change in the community. Even as a child, I was curious about the world and wanted to understand it better,” June said.

“Through my research, I hope to demonstrate that you don’t have to compromise who you are as an Aboriginal person or as a woman, you can dream and aspire to achieve those goals.”

June is a Chief Investigator on the Lililwan Project and Chief Executive Officer of Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre. She was awarded an Order of Australia in 2013 for her ongoing work in improving the lives of Aboriginal people in her community.

In February 2017, June was appointed as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission – the first Aboriginal woman to hold this position.

June hope to explore the impact and manifestation of intergenerational and generational trauma to help inform government responses required to make a change to those people and communities.

“There is a need to design services that are healing informed and trauma aware. We need to respect that and respond to individuals across society so that we can ensure that people with complex needs have every opportunity to be the best that they can be,” June said.

June has been a student of Notre Dame’s Broome Campus for the better part of 15 years, having completed both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Business. June says the University’s Broome Campus provides a supportive environment for all students to come together to learn about Aboriginal history and culture.

“The greatest gift I have received was Notre Dame making a commitment and creating an opportunity for people like myself to access excellence in higher education through providing those services in the North West,” June said.

“I’m forever grateful to Notre Dame because I was able to combine all my family and professional commitments in the Kimberley with my university education.”

Throughout her career, June has advocated for the health and wellbeing of her people in the Fitzroy Valley, with a particular focus on Aboriginal children and women. June fought successfully for alcohol restrictions in Fitzroy Crossing and continues to advocate for Indigenous Australian languages, social justice, women’s issues and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

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Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;