A Story of Friendship: Betty Fisher and the Collective Living-Legacy of Aunty Gladys Elphick and the Council of Aboriginal Women in South Australia is the title of this year’s Uncle Lewis Yarlupurka O’Brien Oration.
The oration will be given by Narungga poet and Flinders Research Fellow Associate Professor Natalie Harkin.
In 2018 Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Fisher OAM entrusted a significant archive tracing the life and work of her good friend, the late Kaurna, Ngadjuri, Narungga Elder Aunty Gladys, to Associate Professor Harkin (pictured right).
With it came an explicit request. To complete Aunty Glad’s book which the two women began in 1964.
The Oration and Associate Professor Harkin’s paper, A Story of Friendship, considers the challenges and cultural responsibilities that go with honouring the living-legacy archive of a notable figure such as Aunty Glad.
“As a significant archive, the collection traces the strong bond between the two women, along with Aunty Glad’s life and work,” Associate Professor Harkin explains.
“It also honours the work of many prominent Aboriginal women who, with Aunty Glad, were a pivotal force in establishing the Council of Aboriginal Women in South Australia in 1965.
“Not only did Betty and Aunty Glad share a woven bond, but their advocacy and social justice work was groundbreaking, and as relevant today as it was back then.
“While Betty’s material archive is of immense value, it also presents unique challenges and cultural responsibilities. This is a living-legacy archive, and a community-owned story of extensive claim and investment. I’m reminded of Alexis Wright’s words as she began her book Tracker with the question “How do you tell an impossible story and one that might be almost too big to contain in a single book?’
“While a collective biography approach is necessary, the loyal friendship between Betty and Aunty Glad remains the constant heartbeat to this work.”
All are invited to attend the 2023 Uncle Lewis Yarlupurka O’Brien Oration from 6-7pm, Thursday, October 26, in the Alere Function Centre, Bedford Park Campus. The Oration will also be live streamed. Please register here or join online here.