Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Passing of Dr R Marika

The death of Dr Marika last night is a great loss to her people and to all of us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, who are committed to reconciliation.

Her death has sadly cut short a remarkable and inspirational life.

Dr Marika was the embodiment of reconciliation – her life and work reflected the passionate belief that real and lasting reconciliation could only ever be achieved through building relationships of trust and understanding.

She spent her life building these important relationships.

She was a teacher, an academic, a community leader, a mother and a grandmother – a member of the Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and a Director of Reconciliation Australia.

She was an exceptional linguist and teacher. She understood all 14 clan languages of the Rirratjingu people and spoke three of them fluently. She led the development of the curriculum for Yolgnu children and taught others her language and culture at Charles Darwin University where she was awarded an honorary doctorate.

With great wisdom and perception, she recognised that the future of Aboriginal children inevitably involved living in two cultures and was consequently a strong proponent of two-way education. Only a month ago we discussed her ideas at the 2020 Summit.

Dr Marika moved effortlessly between her traditional culture and contemporary Australia like fresh and salt water mixing in the lagoon – her own metaphor for two-way education.

She will be greatly missed by her many friends and colleagues who span many cultures and all generations.

I send my sincere condolences to her family and her community at Yirrkala.