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Black, White and Exempt: Live panel discussion

Exemption: The high price of freedom

Join the authors of Black, White and Exempt: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives under exemption in a live panel discussion about a lesser-known part of Australia’s dark histories: Aboriginal Exemption.

Exemption certificates promised Aboriginal people freedom from hardship, from oppressive regulation of their livelihoods, the promise to protect their families and increase their opportunities for a better life.

In exchange, exempted people were either formally required to relinquish their language, identity and ties to kin or felt pressure to do so.

This event has now concluded.


Online event

Time: 7pm AEDT

The authors of Black, White and Exempt: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives under exemption discuss a lesser-known part of Australia’s dark histories: Aboriginal Exemption.


Katherine Ellinghaus (host) is Associate Professor of History in the School of Archaeology and History at La Trobe University. She is of Irish, Scottish and German descent and has researched and written extensively on indigenous assimilation policies in Australia and the United States. In 2014 she was awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant to write a history of Aboriginal exemption policies in Australia.

Jennifer Jones is an Associate Professor at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University Albury-Wodonga campus. She is a non-Indigenous woman who was raised on Wiradjuri country in southern New South Wales. Her PhD, from the University of Adelaide, examined histories of crossracial collaboration in Australian publishing. Jennifer’s research interests include Indigenous Australian history, rural and religious history, and histories of childhood and education. She teaches environmental history, Aboriginal history and rural studies, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her most recent book On Taungurung Land: Sharing History and Culture, was co-authored with Taungurung Elder Uncle Roy Patterson and published by Aboriginal History Inc. in late 2020.

Aunty Judi Wickes is a Kalkadoon and Wakka Wakka woman with Irish and English heritage born in Brisbane, Queensland. She is a respected community Elder, social worker, historian and educator who writes and presents nationally and internationally on the Stolen Generations and Certificates of Exemption and their impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. She lectures as a guest speaker on these topics at various universities. She is the first Indigenous Australian scholar to undertake a comprehensive study of Aboriginal exemption and has published widely on the subject.

Aunty Kella Robinson is a Wemba Wemba woman born in Hillston, central New South Wales. Her formal education included correspondence lessons, later attending the Murrin Bridge Mission School in western New South Wales and finishing with mainstream education in Hillston State School. She has worked as a state schoolteacher, storyteller and cultural interpreter. Since 2003, Kella has been one of the cultural advisers assisting the Victorian Koorie Court at Shepparton, and since 2012 she has been involved with the Dungala-Kaiela Writing Awards.

Lucinda Aberdeen is a sociologist, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at La Trobe University and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Rural Health in Shepparton, Victoria.  She is of Irish and Scottish descent and grew up on Noongar country in the south-west of Western Australia. Her PhD from La Trobe University examined racism and the role of the Australian state in country New South Wales. Her research interests include ageing, anti-racist pedagogy, cultural diversity, human rights, racism and the settler colonial and contemporary state in Australia and rural health.

Hear from Aunty Kella Robinson in the video below:


Last updated: 27 October 2021