Warren Mundine was Indigenous X host from January 30 to February 7, 2014.
Five questions to Warren
My first name “Nyunggai” means “sun”. It was the skin name that my father gave to me as a child. Recently I changed my name by deed poll to Nyunggai Warren Mundin,e and so now I use it officially.
My parents worked and sent us to Catholic schools. God, work and school were very important in our family. Even so, as a teenager I started to drift and my reading and writing didn’t progress past primary level. I caused my parents a lot of trouble getting into fights, consuming alcohol and drugs, etc. At one point I was arrested and detained as a juvenile. My parents, a priest and a local white couple stood up for me in court and I was given another chance. They kept an eye on me, I got a labouring job and finished school at TAFE.
I stayed in labouring and trade jobs for about 10 years. My first office job was as a clerk at the Tax Office. I lived in Armidale and Dubbo when my kids were young and got elected to Dubbo Council where I was deputy mayor. That’s how I got involved in the Labor party, and eventually I was elected its national president. I spent about nine years as CEO of NTSCorp, working with NSW Aboriginal communities on their native title, and I was CEO of GenerationOne in 2013. I now run my own business and have been appointed to advise the prime minister on Indigenous issues as chair of the Indigenous Advisory Council.
I’m married to Elizabeth and between us we have 10 children (most are grown up). It’s a lot of fun. And of course, I am a mad lover of football.
So I will be focussing on the “bread and butter” issues for closing the gap – jobs, education, school attendance, health, welfare – and I want to prompt some discussion on our traditional nations and cultures and what they have to offer us. As always I want to prompt conversations which make people think, and where readers are prepared to challenge their own thinking.
Also Charles Perkins and John Moriarty who both overcame adversity, went to university when it wasn’t easy for Aboriginal people to do that – both played football, and John was selected for the national team.
And for communities – social stability, economic and commercial development, land ownership.
The high suicide rates amongst Indigenous people is a devastating problem. I’ve been reading and talking to people over the last few months in particular so as to understand it better. It’s not a topic that is easy to discuss on a medium like Twitter, however.
In the end, my hope is that Indigenous people can be full participants in Australian life and all it has to offer as well as being part of strong and thriving traditional nations where they can take care of their culture, language, traditional lands and build an economic future.