Gift to our Nation
Quietly spoken Dr. Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr, captured my attention in her ‘2021 Senior Australian of the Year’ acceptance speech, when she spoke of the greatest gift to our nation. She named ‘dadirri’ as that gift. Dadirri (da-did-ee) is a term from the Aboriginal peoples of the Daly River region, referring to the ‘deep spring’ in all of us and the ability to tap into it. ‘Inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness’ is required. Miriam-Rose assures us: ‘The contemplative way of dadirri spreads over our whole life. It renews us and brings us peace. It makes us feel whole again…’ This renewal extends to healing from grief and other forms of pain we encounter. Whereas she finds her stillness by a riverbank and in other natural spaces, it can be found in the city too, as we listen quietly to one another.
Although my roots are Anglo-Celtic, I resonate with Miriam-Rose. I respectfully practise dadirri and lead others to do so too, in bush settings in or near Lane Cove. It is harder to slow down and find that deep, inner spring when engaged in city life – but so very important. It is an antidote to rushed lives, allowing spiritual wisdom to surface that can otherwise be missed. ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (the Bible, Psalm 46:10) is a treasure I have long respected from my Christian tradition. We struggle to ‘be still’ at our own peril. So many of us have lost the ability to ‘simply be in God’s presence’, but Miriam-Rose tells us that Aboriginal people feel close to their Creator easily.
Does Miriam-Rose go too far in describing dadirri as ‘our most unique gift’ and ‘perhaps the greatest gift we (Aboriginal peoples) can give to our fellow Australians? There are gifts of understanding the Australian bush that indigenous people possess, which could be utilised to reduce bushfires, preserving water sources and so much more. Yet, I suggest this wisdom has come from this same deep source within, originally. Quiet observation of this land and its inhabitants over thousands of years, observing its response to challenges, combined with a deep inner knowing, has created a unique depth of wisdom. Let us respect and seek that wisdom from Aboriginal people and learn to engage it for ourselves through the practice of dadirri.
Quotes from Miriam Rose Ungunmerr can be found in their full context at
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The articles here were written by Peter Andrews on behalf of the Chaplaincy Team from beginning 2023.