Yuin woman Anne Martin receives the Member of the Order of Australia
From her sunlit office at the Australian National University, Yuin woman Ms Anne Martin AM is able to gaze over well-tended gardens. The walls of her office are lined with precious artworks from the university’s collection and the floor is well-trodden by students seeking her guidance as Director of the Tjabal Indigenous Higher Education Centre.
She is a former co-chair of the National NAIDOC committee and this Australia Day, 2019, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of her service to the Indigenous community and to higher education.
In many ways Ms Martin is a living example of NAIDOC’s 2018 theme ‘Because of her, we can’.
She did not have an easy road to higher education and few would guess she gave up her place in the graduating year of her high school to go to work.
‘I left school in year 10 so my brothers could have opportunities,’ she said.
‘One of my brothers got to become a lawyer. I went to work so I wouldn’t be a burden on my family. It was just one of those things.’
It was not until Ms Martin was in her 30s that she was able to take a year 12 equivalency course, earn her certificate, and enter university.
‘When it was time for me to go to university my mum and dad looked after my children,’ she said.
‘I went to university in my 30s. It wasn’t easy but I loved the opportunities I got and I was so grateful.
‘I often think of Albert Facey’s book: ‘A Fortunate Life’ and I think: that’s me.
‘I have had a fortunate life because I had opportunities. And I try to pass those on now to others and I know that they will pay it forward.’
Ms Martin, who holds an honorary doctorate from the World Indigenous Nations University, doesn’t like titles.
‘I’m happier just being called Anne,’ she said.
In spite of all of her achievements, her appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia came as a surprise.
‘I am very honoured. I don’t know who nominated me but I’m honoured that they took the time to do it. It is an important award and I am very happy.’
A number of Indigenous Australians were recognised in the Australia Day honours list for their contributions including Ms Dulcie Flower OAM, for significant service to the Indigenous community and to the 1967 Referendum Campaign.
Other contributors to the Referendum Campaign, who were recognised with an Australia Day honour this year, included Mrs Ruth Hennings OAM, Mr Alfred Neal OAM, Ms Diana Travis OAM, Ms Kathleen Mills OAM, Mrs Pam Pendersen OAM and Dr Barrie Pittock OAM.