Doreen Walters

1940 Collegian


I was born in the North Eastern Wheatbelt near Bencubbin where my parents were wheat and sheep farmers, and attended the tiny North Mount Marshall School. I won a scholarship to attend MLC as a boarder where I became fully immersed in the life of the school.

I chose teaching as a career and have contributed to the community through organisational leadership and voluntary activities. I taught in Dwellingup, Holyoake, Busselton, Collie and Perth Girls School. But before that, at university, I befriended Rita Coulter who was part of the Movement for Moral Rearmament (MRA). It was these MRA spiritual values of purity, unselfishness, honesty and love that I used as principles in my teaching.

In 1950 I resigned to go overseas for one year and spent time in New Zealand performing a play called The Forgotten Factor.

Returning to Australia, I worked in Melbourne and Sydney for the next five years, and then travelled to Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and London where I became steeped in multiculturalism and believed in the need to build bridges of understanding between opposing groups.

My involvement with Aborigines and the reconciliation movement began in the 1960s where I heard stories from members of the Stolen Generation. I also spent time in East Arnhem Land and Yuendumu, west of Alice Springs. This gave me deeper insights and knowledge into the history and culture of Australia's first people.

I was the co-founder of the Northern Suburbs Reconciliation Group and in 2005 I received a Multicultural Service Award which recognised my commitment to multiculturalism and reconciliation.

I have not aimed for personal achievements but believe and hope that my work and my ideas will be carried on by students and young people I was able to influence, many of whom are still a part of my life today.

At the age of 89 I am still very committed to work among Aboriginal people, listening to them and trying to help them achieve the life they seek. A lifelong concern has been the lack of trust and understanding between indigenous and white Australians.

I urge everyone to seek out their dreams and set the hurdles high in whatever you seek to accomplish. Never be satisfied with second best. Encourage others and build community, and keep giving of yourself, however hard that may be at times.