Aunty Wendy Lotter is an esteemed Aboriginal Community Elder. A proud Yuin woman, with strong affiliations with nations throughout NSW, Queensland, the Northern Territory and ACT, Wendy was born in Walgett, in northern NSW, and moved to the Southern Highlands 37 years ago. For more than two decades, she has worked as a social welfare expert, helping indigenous children, and as owner of Platypus Dreamin’ Aboriginal Education Program, she is driven to raise awareness of Australian indigenous culture. “The first thing I always say to people who tell me they don’t know much about the true history of our First Nations peoples is ‘talk to people who do. Ask questions, research’, and when you have done that, you can come and talk to me.” @lotter58_
My name is … Wendy Lotter.
My life in five words is … cultural, compassionate, friendly, knowledgeable family.
My favourite thing to do here is … educate people about my culture. Walk around the bush and meet all types of people.
When we have friends visiting, we always take them … on bush walks with lots of talking.
When it comes to indigenous culture, this is the one truth I know …. that we lived here and practised our wonderful culture, and everyone should know this.
I have been a social worker for indigenous kids for two decades because … they are our new generation. I want them to understand that ‘no one can knock you down, only you can’ so think about consequences before actions always. My father said this to me throughout his life.
I started Platypus Dreamin’ Education Program …because I understand not all people have an understanding of my culture. I want them to see, try, enjoy and experience it.
Some things I teach include … mapping (illustrating Connection to Country), ochre (its significance and use), bush medicine, dance, music, White Australia policies.
There is a growing interest in cultural and indigenous tourism in Australia. Now is the time to … experience our culture and research what is happening around the particular area you are interested in.
With NAIDOC, Heal Country, Heal Our Nation, July 4-11 celebrating our indigenous peoples, can you share some local areas special to our Gundungurra peoples? Carrington Falls, Roberston; the Boxvale Walking Track, near Mittagong and Gundungurra Lookout, behind Bowral are wonderful places to discover the medicinal bush plants used by our people for centuries.
To truly improve our indigenous people’s wellbeing and to build a cohesive future, as a nation we need to … consult all people. Consultation is the key.
Teaching Australia’s true indigenous, colonial and post-colonial history in schools is … mandatory in government schools but it is still in the early stages. Schools need to educate themselves on the protocol when addressing indigenous people, especially Aboriginal Community Elders.
When it comes to being a proud Aboriginal woman … I am honoured to have had my parents, and my Mob give me an understanding of my culture and to teach me that while we are all proud Aboriginal or Torres Straits Islanders, we are different too.
The most precious piece of affirmation I ever received … was after a program I taught at a local school where we spoke about Aboriginal symbols and their uses. One of the kids later went to a Sydney art gallery, saw an Aboriginal painting and said to his Mum: ‘I know that’s a walking track and there are the waterholes.’ When his mum said, ‘How do you know this?’ he said, ‘Wendy told me!’.
And finally, please finish this sentence. Esteemed indigenous leaders never die, they just …. Surround me. My parents have passed but when I need advice, I talk to them and think about what they taught me. So, they never die because I feel them every day.