I had the great privilege of being a guest at Lowitja O’Donoghue’s 80th birthday over the weekend and it was one of those opportunities that give you the chance to reflect on how far we have come and how much more work there is left to do.

Blog post by NCIE, CEO, Jason Glanville.
Photo: Lowitja O’donoghue, Sol
Bellear, Jason Glanville.

The room was full of giants, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who have played a part in shaping Australia over the last half-century or more. What Lowitja has achieved is extraordinary and what she represents to future generations in terms of a vision of excellence is incredibly important. The battles she has fought, private and public, have established new benchmarks of integrity and possibility.

Photo: Michael O’Loughlin with Lowitja O’Donoghue.

The NCIE’s vision of excellence is possible because of the work of Lowitja and so many of her contemporaries that were in the room. People like Jackie Huggins, Pat Anderson, Shirley Peisley, Anne Martin and Kerrie Tim and the next generation of Indigenous leaders present including Tanya Hosch, Kirstie Parker, Ian Anderson and Kerry Arabena. Our success will depend, in part, on our capacity to take the lessons from these great leaders and make sure they are transferred to future leaders.

Leadership is tough and many of our leaders didn’t set out to play the roles they do, but their resilience, passion, commitment and natural talent, led them on a journey from which we all benefit. Handing the baton over to a new generation of leaders isn’t always an easy or smooth process, but the bottom line is that the success achieved to date will be unsustainable without an effective transition. And, the reality is, there is plenty of work still to be done, requiring leaders from across the community contributing in a range of ways.

From everyone at the NCIE, Happy Birthday Lowitja – we owe you so much.

NCIE CEO, Jason Glanville 2012