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NAIDOC 2024: Celebrating Indigenous Stories and Heritage with Aunty Jill West

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11th July 2024

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About this episode

In honour of NAIDOC week 2024, the theme:  Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud & Proud honours the enduring strength and vitality of First Nations culture – with fire a symbol of connection to Country, to each other, and to the rich tapestry of traditions that define Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Also, because I simply love what this wonderful woman has to share, we explore the experience and philosophies of Aunty Jill West, a Bunurong and Palawa woman, who generously shares her fascinating life story and the lessons she's learned from dealing with death.

In our chat, Aunty Jill talks about her dual heritage, her father's untimely death at 53, and how it made her reflect on her own mortality. She highlights the importance of understanding and accepting where we come from, and how it shapes our identity. Her father, a man of 'supreme intelligence', had a profound impact on her, and she continues his work, walking next to his footsteps.

Aunty Jill discusses the impact of the 1967 referendum on her family and the Aboriginal community at large. She gets candid about her father's journey to become a teacher, a university lecturer, and a doctor of Indigenous philosophy, despite facing numerous obstacles and systemic discrimination. It's an eye-opening conversation that gives us a glimpse into the resilience and determination of the Aboriginal community.

Remember; You may not be ready to die, but at least you can be prepared. 

Take care, Catherine


Show notes

Guest Bio
Podcast Guest - Image
Aunty Jill West

Founder, Nomuckerlener First Nations Training, Consulting and Mentoring

Jillian is a proud Palawa woman from the Islands of Bass Strait and Proud Bunurong woman from Point Nepean born in Victoria with a lengthy career supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in work, education, and support in their life journey.

Jillian from Nomuckerlener has worked extensively in the First Nations space for 20 years and is strongly committed to working alongside community organisations, developing partnerships, and building cultural capacity. Jill strives to give Aboriginal people a voice through mentoring employment and education with the aim of closing the gap. 

Jillian says 'I am a Mother, a Daughter, a Sister, a Aunty and an Grandmother, however more than anything I am a proud Aboriginal woman and I want to see my people succeed in employment and education so the world can see just how amazing our people are and how living in two worlds can be achieved'.

Jillian's passion comes from her mother and father. Jillian's father is Japanangka errol West, who left a legacy in the education field for Aboriginal people. He was known as the education warrior. Jillian says 'I follow his footsteps,  and everyday he walks alongside me in the Dreamtime. In his Thesis he wrote “I first acknowledge the motivation to write, is the obligation I have to all my beautiful children. There are twelve living and some in the spiritual world and to them I dedicate this thesis with the expectation that their lives overall will be richer than mine", this is something I try to carry on in my own work. I richer for I am Aboriginal and have a culture that is both tangible and intangible in both worlds. The best journey we can have is the journey of our self within culture.'


In today’s episode:

  • Aunty Jill discusses the importance of understanding and accepting one’s heritage, highlighting how this acceptance can help alleviate the burden of historical guilt and contribute to personal and community healing.
  • We delve into Aunty Jill’s personal journey through grief following the sudden death of her father, exploring how her Aboriginal heritage and customs provided her with the frameworks to cope and find strength.
  • The significance of cultural rituals in mourning and remembrance is touched upon, giving us a poignant view of how Indigenous practices can deeply influence the healing process.

Key Points from Our Conversation:

  • Heritage and Healing: Aunty Jill emphasises the strength found in accepting and knowing one's heritage, which for her, was key in navigating life’s challenges, particularly in dealing with the death of loved ones.
  • Grief as a Path to Healing: She shares her intimate experiences with grief, illustrating how the Aboriginal concepts of Dreaming and Dreamtime provide a comforting perspective on death and the continuation of spiritual existence.
  • Cultural Strength in Mourning: We get an insight into the powerful role of Aboriginal mourning rituals that not only honour the deceased but also fortify the bonds among the living.


00:00:01,720 --> 00:00:04,459
Aunty Jill West: Non Indigenous
people are not the ones that did this.

00:00:04,460 --> 00:00:05,490
It was the government.

00:00:05,830 --> 00:00:10,500
Australia has this misconception that we
think it's them personally, but it's not.

00:00:10,900 --> 00:00:13,240
Yes, we were invaded by
British, but it's not.

00:00:13,590 --> 00:00:16,640
The people that are sitting in my
training, they come from British h ... Read More


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