Deb has been involved in the Indigenous Nation Building (INB) space since 2011 when she was working as the research officer for Charles Sturt Universities Wiradjuri Language & Cultural Heritage Project Committee when she began collaborating with Wiradyuri citizens Donna Murray, and Professor Miriam Jorgenson from the Native Nations Institute http://nni.arizona.edu/people/staff/miriam-jorgensen-1 and then Dr Alison Vivian from UTS's Indigenous Nations & Collaborative Futures Hub. https://profiles.uts.edu.au/alison.vivian.
Born and raised in Wilcannia on the Baaka in Outback NSW, Deb’s matrilineal ties are to the Malyangapa language group including matrilineal ties to the sacred site of Mutawintji NP, her patrilineal ties are to the Keewong Mob of the Ngiyampaa nation.
Migrating to Wiradjuri Country in 1994 she was blessed to be mentored by several key Wiradjuri elders such as Wongamaa-Pastor Cec Grant (dec), Uncle/Dr Stan Grant (Snr) and their sister Aunty Flo Grant (dec).
Along with many other Wiradjuri elders and other community spirited leaders such as Donna Murray, these visionaries believed in the power of their Wiradjuriness to re-orientate themselves and their citizens in the ways of their Ancestors. In the beginning we didn't expect the levels of healing and transformation self reported by the alumni of the multi-award winning Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language & Cultural Heritage.
Partnering with CSU’s Ros Brennan Kemmis (dec) and Professor Emeritus, Stephen Kemmis, they built the award-winning Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage.
Fast forward twelve years, today it is sustained by course co-founder, Uncle Dr Stan Grant Snr, course coordinator Professor Sue Green, Letitia Harris, Harry Lambshead, Uncle Pat Connolly and Aunty Elaine Lomas, all language teachers who have graduated from the program, who are all Wiradyuri citizens.
Master class Nation Building presenters, Donna Murray (Wiradyuri), Professor Miriam Jorgenson, Dr Alison Vivian and I teach into the Rebuilding Australia’s Indigenous Nations and Community Development subjects. It is one of the greatest privileges of our lives. Wiradyuri take the international Indigenous Nation Building evidence and make it their own.
“We are re-building our language to rebuild our people, and we are rebuilding our people so they can, rebuild our Country and rebuild our nation” (Aunty Flo Grant, 2018).
This is a program that absolutely should not work, yet somehow it does, somehow it is beginning the process of re-building a thriving Wiradyuri community, supporting and hopefully growing Wiradyuri’s individual and collective capacity to secure diverse and vibrant futures of their own design, according to their own dreams and aspiration.
Deb is a member of the Budyaan Wiradjuri Futures Trust set up by Dr Stan Grant (Snr).