The distinguished Armidale educator Dr Dianne Roberts OAM passed away in Armidale Hospital last week.
Dr Roberts, a woman from the Thungutti tribe of Nula Creek in Bellbrook in the Dhungutti Nation, devoted her life to the education of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
She worked for almost 40 years at Armidale's Minimbah school, and retired in 2009 as director of Minimbah pre-school.
Dr Roberts began her association with Minimbah as a volunteer mother in 1970, and served as cleaner, bus driver, education assistant and teacher, before becoming director of Minimbah pre-school in 1987 and principal of the primary school in 1997. She held a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of New England (UNE).
Under her leadership Minimbah, which is known to mean "place of learning", truly lived up to its name. Minimbah offers a culturally supportive learning environment for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, with a strong focus on Aboriginal culture.
She championed educating for creativity and difference, drawing on her experience at Minimbah School in encouraging the richness of cultural diversity within the first years of early education.
In 1984 Dr Roberts was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in recognition of her dedication to Aboriginal children's education. She also received the NAIDOC Award for Education Initiatives, the NSW Children's Services Award, and the Government of NSW Citizens Award.
Dr Roberts served on committees associated with the Department of Community Services, the State Education Policy Committee, and the State Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Advisory Group.
In 2017 Dr Roberts was awarded with an Honorary Doctor of Letters (HonDLitt) by the UNE for her lifelong contribution to the development of Aboriginal education. She was one of the first two Aboriginal people to ever receive a UNE honorary doctorate.
Dr Roberts was a much-loved mother, grandmother and great grand mother to Dorothy and Frank and their families.
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