Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM
Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM has spent most of the 78 years of his life fighting for the freedom and justice of his people. Having grown up in the missions in Millingimbi and then on Elcho Island, yet having maintained his traditional law and culture – his capacity to bridge the gap between the two very different worlds in which he has lived is exceptional.
Some of Dr Gondarra’s long list of achievements include being the first Indigenous moderator of the Northern Synod, the first Indigenous representative on the World Council of Churches, the founder of the hugely successful cross-cultural mediation program Mawul Rom, receiving a Doctorate from the University of Roundtable in Arizona, serving on the board of Reconciliation Australia, and receiving an Order of Australia Medal. He has been the Chairperson of Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Association for over 30 years, the largest Indigenous owned and operated company and NGO in Australia.
His lifetime of studying has seen him spend 3 years in Papua New Guinea and a lot of time travelling to Canada, United States, Korea and the Pacific Islands to study and meet with other First Nations people where he gained a broader insight into the struggles of his own people. His studies in Liberation Theology which originated in the civil rights movement in the United States, has helped form the foundation of his beliefs around freedom of humanity.
In 2010 he featured in the documentary, ‘Our Generation’ as an outspoken leader against the NT Intervention policies. His role in the movement that was spurred by the film saw him take his peoples’ fight to the United Nations in Geneva to meet with the Human Rights Commissioner in person.
As a senior initiated Yolŋu Ḏhalkarra / Djirrikay (elected political leader), a spiritual leader and a dedicated civil rights activist, his life’s journey has been to empower his own people through the recognition of Yolŋu customary law, governance and sovereignty.
Now in his later years, he took on the Co-Producing role of Ḻuku Ngärra: The Law of the Land which is his final call out to Australia and the world to stop and listen to the voices of the First Nations people.
Long time friend and director of both films Sinem Saban describes him; ‘Dr Gondarra has a strong yet gentle way of placing audiences in their heart space, and without creating division, has a great power of shedding light on things that are gravely unjust.’
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