LOIS PEELER AM
Acknowledgement to Country and Opening Address
“An Aboriginal perspective on people, purpose, policy and place: creating a culture of wellbeing”
Lois Peeler has ancestral connections to Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri people through her mother and Wurundjeri through her father. She grew up on her Mother’s country of the Murray River and Cummeragunja Aboriginal Reserve, the Goulburn River Flats of Mooroopna and orchards of Shepparton.
Lois has had a lifetime of involvement in Aboriginal community development and has extensive experience in Aboriginal Affairs. She has held senior positions in the State public sector and managed the implementation of the first ever Aboriginal Employment Strategy for the Victorian Public Service. She was an elected representative of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission where she held the position of Regional Chairperson. She was appointed to a term as Acting Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (Victoria).
Lois’ public career includes being the first Aboriginal model and first Aboriginal person to work in television (the GTV 9 Breakfast Session in the 60’s). She was part of the group that toured Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam War and were the subjects of the hit play and then internationally acclaimed movie “The Sapphires”.
Lois co-authored the publication Yorta Yorta Language Heritage, she is the author of the Aboriginal Oral History of the Flats of Mooroopna / Shepparton and directed the production of “The Flats” DVD.
Lois is a strong contributor to Aboriginal community controlled initiatives through a range of Indigenous organisations. She is Chair of the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee, a member of the statewide Aboriginal Justice Forum, Chair of the Aboriginal Independent Prison Visitors Advisory Committee and a community member of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee of the Museums Board of Victoria.
In June 2014, Lois was made a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia. The award was made for her "significant service to the Indigenous community as an educator, advocate and role model”. In 2017 she was Senior Victorian of the Year and in the same year she was awarded a Doctor of Social Science, Honoris Causa, by RMIT University. In 2020 she was inducted into the Victorian Women’s Honour Roll.