Indigenous Elder passes away

The Australian and Indigenous flags at half mast outside The Memo. 198121 Picture: JED LANYON

By Jed Lanyon

The Healesville community is in mourning following the passing of Indigenous Elder Aunty Dorothy ‘Dot’ Peters AM overnight.

Aunty Dot was born and raised in Healesville in 1930 and has been a much-loved member of the community upon her return to the town in 1969.

Aunty Dot founded the Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service, an annual event that started at Healesville RSL where a didgeridoo was played alongside the ode as a way of honouring her father, who died as a prisoner of war on the Thai Burma railway.

From 2006, the event is held at the Shrine of Remembrance each year to honour the thousands of Aboriginal service men and women who have served and continue to serve in the Australian Defence Force.

In June, Aunty Dot was recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) as part of the 2019 Queen’s Birthday honours for her significant service to the Indigenous community of Victoria.

From 1980 to 1991, she worked as an Aboriginal educator at Healesville Primary School, educating students about Indigenous culture and showing them how to weave baskets.

Some of Aunty Dot’s other achievements include, founder of Yarra Valley Aboriginal Elders Association, Honorary Elder and founding member of Healesville Indigenous Community Services Association, a member of Victoria’s Aboriginal and women’s honour roll and a Centenary Medal recipient.

In a message to the Yarra Ranges community, Mayor Tony Stevenson said, “The community of the Yarra Valley is better for having Aunty Dot in it, and I know her loss will be felt by all of us.

“She tirelessly worked in the Yarra Valley to promote cultural awareness, teaching Aboriginal Studies, working in local primary schools and setting up programs to teach children about Indigenous history and culture.

“As a sign of respect for Aunty Dot, her life’s work and her legacy, Yarra Ranges Council has flown its flags today at half-mast.”

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