; Oriel Green OAM conferred as Holder of the Keys to the City of Wanneroo - City of Wanneroo

Oriel Green OAM conferred as Holder of the Keys to the City of Wanneroo

Published Monday, 15th April 2024

Noongar Elder, Oriel Green OAM, has been appointed the inaugural Holder of the Keys to the City of Wanneroo.

A photo of Oriel Green OAM
Oriel Green OAM

Previously referred to as a Freeman of the City, the symbolic gesture recognises individuals who demonstrate outstanding commitment and have made significant contributions to the local community.

Wanneroo Council voted unanimously to bestow the title on Oriel, who has lived in Girrawheen for over 50 years, in recognition of her tireless work to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal peoples.

A community leader within the City of Wanneroo for decades, and with two Medals of the Order of Australia, a Centenary Medal and as an inductee of the Aboriginal Education Hall of Fame and WA Women’s Hall of Fame, her influence extends well beyond City borders.

Mayor Linda Aitken said Oriel stood as an example of how one person could leave an enduring mark on their community.

“Oriel embodies dedication and inspiration. Her lifelong commitment to strengthening education, reconciliation and community empowerment outcomes has improved the lives of Aboriginal people right across Australia,” she said.

“By sharing her knowledge and advocating for Aboriginal communities, locally and nationally, she has touched countless lives.

“As the inaugural chairperson for the City’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group and a Founding Member of the Northern Suburbs Reconciliation Working Group, she has played a pivotal role in fostering understanding and communication between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities and contributed to a more inclusive and understanding environment within the City, breaking down barriers and promoting cultural respect.

“As a City and a community, we are incredibly fortunate to benefit from Oriel’s knowledge, commitment and compassion, and I am so happy to announce this recognition of her contributions to making our community better for everyone.”

Oriel said she was honoured to be recognised by the City.

“I’m so happy, I feel really overwhelmed,” she said.

“When I look at my life, I can’t believe all the things I’ve done – the committees, groups and events I’ve been part of.

“I try to do things in a quiet sort of way, but I do them because I love people. Meeting them, sitting and chatting about interesting things that are happening at the time and offering people advice or an opinion when needed.

“When I first came out to Girrawheen in 1972, we didn’t have a shop and there was one way in and out of the area, but I thought it was wonderful and I was so happy to be here.

“I’ve seen so much change over the years, new schools and housing developments, it’s a bustling suburb now, but I still remember how I felt when I arrived and being so happy to see the area and see what my children would have here.

“I love the City of Wanneroo because of the people. I’ve loved raising my family here, and I’m so proud and humbled to be recognised in this way by my community.”

Born in Threesprings, a small town north of Perth in 1935, Oriel was the oldest of 14 children to parents Roeland and Eva Bartlett (nee Wyatt).

She has lived in Girrawheen since moving to Perth in the early 1970s.

Passionate about education and helping young people achieve their potential, Oriel pursued a career in early childhood education, studying while her own children were at school.

She earned a Certificate in Child Care (CCC) and an Associate Diploma in Children’s Service, and worked in the early education space and with the Education Department for over 20 years.

Oriel was also on the National Aboriginal Early Childhood Committee for six years, and has worked with the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority, the Mount Lawley College of Advanced Education (now ECU) and Murdoch University on their Aboriginal Advisory Council Committees.

Oriel was also on the inaugural Northern Suburbs Reconciliation Group.

In 1993, she received the NAIDOC Week Aboriginal Elder of the Year Award and in 2012, she was named NAIDOC Perth Female Elder of the Year Award.

In 2010, she became a life member of the Aboriginal Alcohol and Drug Service (now Wungening Aboriginal Corporation).

Currently, Oriel serves on several Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) committees at the cities of Wanneroo and Stirling, as well as Osborne Park Hospital, Key Assets, Ngala and Life Without Barriers. She is also an elder working on the ‘Looking Forward, Moving Forward’ Project, working with Mercy Care Perth and Wanada.

Oriel has six children, eight grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and two great-great-grandchildren.

Oriel will be officially conferred as a Holder of the Keys to the City of Wanneroo at a ceremony in the coming weeks.

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