One Story Of Australia’s Connection With Nelson Mandela

By Barbara Miller 9.12.13 

With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world mourns but also celebrates the life of an extra-ordinary man of great vision, great passion for justice, a model of humility, forgiveness, grace, dignity and perseverance. He was a courageous leader, a world statesman, a man of great maturity and compassion, one who made the hard decisions with love. As the accolades pour in from everywhere, we know the world is richer for his life. Not only is he the father of South Africa but he is a father to all those who choose reconciliation instead of bitterness, love rather than hate and understanding rather than fear.

There are undoubtedly many stories of the lives touched by Nelson Mandela. There are undoubtedly many stories of people and nations who worked to change South Africa’s apartheid policies and bring freedom and dignity to the people. One such story is told via an extract from my book about an Aboriginal pioneer for civil rights in Australia – William Cooper.

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William Cooper’s Descendant Used “Bolt Law” To Challenge Racial Vilification

By Barbara Miller 10.12.13

‘We’re so pleased with the outcome, for all our people,’ said Dr Atkinson, an academic. ‘Especially for the younger people coming through, who really shouldn’t have to deal with that continual stuff to have to justify their identity.’[1]

This was the response of one of the applicants, Dr Wayne Atkinson, a descendant of pioneer Aboriginal civil rights campaigner, William Cooper.  It referred to the case of Eatock v Bolt where columnist Andrew Bolt was successfully taken to court by a group of Aborigines using Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Many conservatives were upset at the outcome and Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, has set it as his first task in government to remove or weaken Section 18C which has become known as “Bolt’s law”.

There has been a flood of objections to the government’s plan to abolish or emasculate race hate laws. Leaders of Indigenous and ethnic groups have combined in signing a statement of concern about the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act – the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Arab Council of Australia, the Chinese Australian Forum, the Australian Hellenic Council, the Lebanese Muslim Association and the Armenian National Council of Australia.[2]

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Australia/ Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Article

Please see the link below to an article by Jeremy Jones on the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council website.

The Last Word: Demonstrating Decency
-Jeremy Jones of AIJAC’s comment on Barbara’s speech to Sydney Jewish Museum on the launch of her book

PRESS RELEASE 28.6.13 Art Exhibition

Aboriginal Art Gallery Norman & Barbara Miller

Cairns will soon be celebrating NAIDOC Week and recognizing the contribution of Indigenous people to the life of the nation. An exciting new collection of Aboriginal art on the theme of Rainforest and Reef by rainforest Aboriginal artist Munganbana or Norman Miller will be exhibited during NAIDOC Week in the Cairns City Place. The work features landscapes, seascapes and riverscapes and features many of the animal, bird, plant and sea life of the region. The exhibition will be in the C.1907 Contemporary Artspace from 9-20 July from 10am – 6pm with free entry. An opening will be held on Thursday 11 July from 5.30-7.30pm with light refreshments at which Munganbana will be launching a “boomerang petition.” The art exhibition is sponsored by the Cairns Regional Council.


Munganbana says “I paint from who I am and I paint from the rich natural and cultural landscape that I am part of and which inspires me. I am inspired by my Creator, by my family and by my Aboriginal heritage as a member of the Jirrbal, Bar-Barrum and Tableland Yidinji tribes. I was born in Atherton and grew up at Wondecla in north Queensland. I am part of the rainforest Bama or people. My name is Munganbana which means ‘Mountain Water’ in the Jirrbal language. The name Mountain Water describes my work – powerful and peaceful – and the land from which I come – crystal cascades and volcanic lakes.”

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Presentations Of William Cooper, Gentle Warrior By Barbara Miller To Leaders

Download PDF of Article.

Jeremy Jones AM giving the Cooper book to President of Israel Shimon Peres May 2013
Jeremy Jones AM giving the Cooper book to President of Israel Shimon Peres May 2013

Jeremy Jones AM giving the Cooper book to the Australian Ambassador to USA Kim Beazley June 13
Jeremy Jones AM giving the Cooper book to the Australian Ambassador to USA Kim Beazley June 13


When Prime Minister Julia Gillard met with Jewish leaders in Sydney a few weeks ago and signed the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism, she was given a couple of books as a gift from the Jewish community. One of them was my book on William Cooper presented by Peter Wertheim, Executive Director of the Exec utive Council of Australian Jewry.

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Cooper-petition-launch-ACT-21.5.13-group-by-Joy_web“Who would ever have thought that the grandson of Aboriginal rights campaigner William Cooper who tried to send a petition to King George V in 1938 would now be sending it to the King’s granddaughter Queen Elizabeth 11 in 2013, 75 years later. But that is exactly what Alf Turner (also known as Uncle Boydie) is doing” said Barbara Miller, part of a team helping him do it.

“Bipartisan support for the petition is rising” said Miller “with Opposition leader Tony Abbott signing it on the same day that the Journey to Recognition was launched at Federation Square in Melbourne. Education Minister Peter Garrett has also signed it as has Jeannette Powell, Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and former Australian Democrats Senator Aden Ridgeway and AFL legend Michael Long. There are currently over 80 signatures on it.”


THE GATHERING – Painting Story


Acrylic on canvas – 860mm x 840mm
Original sold
Limited edition prints will be available

Front Cover Artwork
This painting is part of a reconciliation theme and the important thing I want to bring across is as a gathering of people how we can work in that good partnership/relationship way. How we can build on and encourage and recognize the diversity, not only in our nation, but also in our cities and towns.

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P O Box 1967

Ref-1967-ptg-with-NormanAcrylic on canvas –
1200mm x 900mm
$2,500, shipping free
Limited edition prints may be available
The 40 year anniversary of the 1967 referendum on 27 May 2007 is a moment of such historical significance for my people and this nation of Australia that I had to capture the moment in my painting. It is a matter of seizing the moment. It is a watershed time that changed history and the swirling waters in my painting reflect that. In fact, the movement of the waves surrounding the nation are vigorous, refreshing and life-giving. A map of Australia is in the centre of the painting with theTorres Strait Islands impressionistically depicted to the north east as there are two indigenous groups in Australia.

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