The First Step Feb. 2011 - Page 12

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunugpingu Born blind and unware of the Braille system, Gurrumul speaks few words of English and is reportedly very shy. He was born in Elcho Island, off the coast of Arnhem Land. He belongs to the Gumatj clan of the Yolngu and his mother is from the Galpu nation. This incredible artist can play the drums, keyboards, guitar (a right hand-strung guitar left handed) and the didgeridoo. His most impressive instrument however, is his voice. Formly with the group Yothu Yindi, he is now singing stories about his land in various Indigenous languages playing with the Saltwater Band. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine labelled him ‘Australia’s most important voice’. Through his two studio albums ‘Gurrumul’ in 2008 and ‘Rrakala’ in 2011, it has been said that he will change the way you breathe and that, he does. David Unaipon (Ngunaitponi) An innovative inventor, writer, preacher and lecturer David Unaipon now leaves the legacy of being the face of the Australian $50 note. He began his education at the age of seven at the Pont McLeay Mission School and was known by his teachers for his intelligence. He held various jobs including a servant, bootmaker and book-keeper. He became known as the Australian Leonardo da Vinci for his mechanical ideas which included pre WWI drawings for a helicopter based on the principle of the boomerang. He invented various machines including a shearing machine which is the basis of modern mechanical shears today. He received no financial return and no formal acknowledgement. He was a great writer and public speaker and was the first Aboriginal writer to publish in English. His legacy continues today on our $50 note. Neville Bonner Neville Bonner was the first Aboriginal person to sit in Federal Parliament as a Senator for Queensland from 1971 to 1983. Having a limited education and working various labour orientated jobs, Neville lived on Palm Island for five years where he further experienced the hardships of indigenous people. In 1967 after the referendum that gave indigenous people the right to vote Bonner decided to make his first move into politics as he recognised that to make change he needed to be part of the system. In 1971 for the first time in Australian history there was an aboriginal voice in parliament. "We've got to come together, that's what we want for Australia. A one people. We're all Australians, regardless of your ethnic background, regardless of your political belief, regardless of your religious beliefs we are all Australians."