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Audio Marion Scrymgour talks about her mixed sense of identity, 2008

TLF ID R10113

This is an edited sound recording of a Northern Territory politician, Marion Scrymgour, talking about her Tiwi and central Australian backgrounds. She says that all her life she has considered herself to be a Tiwi Islander, like her mother. However, she has also recently 'come to accept that I've got this other different side', and has made connections with her extended family on her father's side in central Australia. She says that as a politician she sees herself as a 'representative for everybody'. The recording was made in July 2008.

Educational details

Educational value
  • Marion Scrymgour (1960-) talks about having two different Indigenous heritages and struggling to connect with her father's background. Scrymgour was raised among her mother's people in the Tiwi Islands rather than with her father's family in central Australia. She inherited Tiwi identity and the obligations of the Miyartuwi skin group. At the time of the interview she had recently begun to connect with her heritage on her father's side.
  • Scrymgour's limited knowledge about her father's family is a reflection of past policies in which children of mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds were removed from their families to be raised like Europeans. Throughout his life, Scrymgour's father did not know where his family was or why he had been taken. With the help of relatives, Scrymgour pieced together part of her father's story. In a speech in 2007 she described 'the paucity of records about his childhood' as a crime that has haunted her family.
  • As suggested in this recording, Scrymgour was still trying to discover more about her father in 2008. She knew he had been taken from his family as an infant from an unknown location in central Australia to be raised on Croker Island, near Darwin. She thought that her paternal grandfather may have been a mixed-race stockman named Jack Woods Perrurle, regarded as an Anmatyerre man. She believed that her paternal grandmother was also Aboriginal, but did not know her identity.
  • Scrymgour - aged in her late 40s at the time of the recording - says that she had recently made connections in central Australia with the extended family of her father, Jack Scrymgour, who had died the previous year. She describes the connection as a process of 'relearning and reintegrating' into a different culture that she and other members of her family knew very little about.
  • Scrymgour has been one of Australia's most successful female Indigenous politicians. She was elected to the NT Legislative Assembly in 2001 as a representative of the Australian Labor Party. In 2003 she became Australia's first female Indigenous cabinet minister, and in 2008 her brief role as acting chief minister made her the first Indigenous woman to lead a state or territory government.
  • Scrymgour was elected in the sparsely populated electorate of Arafura in the northern part of the NT, taking in the Tiwi Islands, the Cobourg Peninsula, Kakadu National Park and western Arnhem Land. It covers an area of more than 200,000 sq km, and about three-quarters of the electorate is Indigenous. Scrymgour comfortably won the seat in 2001. She retained the seat in 2005 with 2,137 votes after preferences, out of a total of 3,053 votes.

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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
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  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia
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  • Person: Marion Scrymgour
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
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  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
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  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.