By CASEY NEILL
TWO women who championed Aboriginal rights in Dandenong last week received recognition for their achievements.
Aunties Walda Blow and Winnie Quagliotti were among 15 people Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tim Bull inducted to the Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll at a ceremony in Melbourne last Wednesday night.
The roll is in its fourth year, the only one of its kind in Australia, and now has 64 inductees.
“Raising awareness of their inspirational stories helps the wider Victorian community understand the tremendous contribution Aboriginal people have made and continue to make to our community,” Mr Bull said.
Walda, a Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba elder, was recognised for her important contribution to Aboriginal affairs in social justice, health and community services.
She was a co-founder of the Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-Operative (DDACSL) with her late husband Reg Blow, who was inducted into the honour roll in 2012.
They were living in Dandenong in 1970 when they formed the association with others in the community to deliver housing, welfare and employment services to struggling Aboriginal families.
It was incorporated in 1975.
In 1972, Reg secured government funding to set up a hostel for Aboriginal boys and Victorian Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs director Reg Worthy asked Walda to manage it.
It was named Gunai Lodge and Walda managed it for five years.
Wurundjeri Elder Winnie was recognised for her major contribution to the Aboriginal community in the Dandenong area in the fields of community leadership, services and cultural heritage.
She moved to Doveton with her second husband Paul Quagliotti in 1968, and two years later worked with her brother Johnny Terrick and Walda to form the DDACSL.
Winnie, also known by her traditional name Narrandjeri, was the organisation’s first chairperson and held the position until a stroke claimed her life in 1988.
During the 1980s, as the DDACSL expanded, she was instrumental in developing several family support programs including the Burrai Child Care Centre – one of the first multi-functional Aboriginal childcare centres – and the Aboriginal Family Aid Support Unit.
She also played a crucial role in Gunai Lodge, allaying the concerns of the property’s neighbours and working as a cleaner and cook alongside Walda.