Who is Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr?

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr (AO) is an Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu (Daly River), where she served for many years as the principal of the local Catholic primary school. She is a renowned artist, activist, writer and public speaker. 

In 1975, Miriam became the Territory's first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher, holding the position of Art Consultant with the Professional Services Branch of the Northern Territory Department of Education. During this time she visited schools throughout the Territory thus gaining the opportunity to advance her commitment to the inclusion of visual art as a part of every child's education. In 1993 she became the Principal of one of the schools in Nauiyu. And in 2004 her abilities saw her appointed as a member of the Federal Government’s advisory body, the National Indigenous Council. Her achievements have been recognised in the awarding of an honorary PhD in Education and being made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1998.

Miriam became the Northern Territory’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in 1975. Her first position with the Department of Education was as an Art Consultant, it afforded her the opportunity to visit schools across the whole Territory and to facilitate the inclusion of visual art as a part of every child’s education. She later became the Principal of the Catholic school in Nauiyu, her home community. In recognition of her work as an educator she was appointed to the Federal Government’s advisory body, the National Indigenous Council, in 2004. She has received an Order of Australia for services to Aboriginal people (1998) and was awarded an Honorary PhD in Education from Charles Darwin University.

In 1988, Miriam presented a paper at a conference entitled Dadirri - Inner Deep Listening and Quiet Still Awareness at conference. This beautifully concise explanation of the spiritual dimension of Aboriginal culture has since been utilised by people working in diverse settings and in private meditations all over the globe. Miriam has become a spokesperson for this important aspect of the Aboriginal worldview and is reguarly invited to share dadirri with groups all around the Australia and further abroad.

In 2013, Miriam established the Miriam Rose Foundation to continue her work advocating for experiences that allow Indigenous youth to learn to ‘walk in two worlds’ - Aboriginal culture and mainstream Western culture. The Foundation is also producing resources to help spread the message of dadirri, and creating opportunities for people to learn about it from Miriam and her mob on their Country (Nauiyu, Daly River, Northen Territory, Australia).

Miriam's many contributions have greatly benefited both local Aboriginal and broader mainstream society in ways that are seeing real reconcilation worked out at the ground level.