My name is Lynette Riley and I am from the Wiradjuri Nation - Dubbo and Gamilaroi Nation – Moree.
I want to pay homage and respect to three key women who have influenced me and helped me become the woman and mother I am today.
These women are: my mother Delma Riley (nee: Wright) – she grew up around Boggabilla and Toomelah; her mother Maude Wright (nee: Dunn) – moved around due to Protection Policies, but spoke of Moree, St George and Boggabilla as her home areas; and my father’s (Keith Riley) mother Alma Riley (nee: Weldon) – grew up around Dubbo.
These women all have long personal stories of love, wide family connections, trauma and triumph due to government policies and practices in their eras. These women grew up in times, in western and northwestern NSW and southern Queensland, when Aboriginal people were considered less than human; and Aboriginal women feared for their and their children’s safety. They were indoctrinated to become good Christians when the wider society treated them with little Christian values and with little respect and often open contempt.
Yet through it all they taught us how to keep our families together, to be proud of who we were as Aboriginal people and that our strength lay in our culture. At the same time they appreciated, we needed an education and even though they themselves were denied an education – because government policy at the time, which reflected wider community views, were that Aboriginal people were unable to be educated. If they were, it was only to provide training so they could work as housekeepers and cleaners for non-Aboriginal people – and that is a whole other story of work, which was akin to slavery, little or no pay and open abuse.
These women who were only provided with a third grade education instilled in me the importance of gaining greater education and pushed me through to complete high school, become a teacher, and later to get my doctorate, which I dedicated in their memory.
They wanted me to gain skills to make a difference in education for all our people. I cannot thank them enough for their love, trust and faith in me; and giving me skills to in-turn support and teach my own children and grandchildren. I thank them every day for their strength and guidance; and ensuring I was brought up proud of my heritage and culture when the wider world told me it was not important; and making sure we always had our extended family connections.