Wendy Lotter shares Aboriginal culture through Platypus Dreamin'

She is one of the most well known faces around the Southern Highlands and always has time for a good old yarn.

Wendy Lotter– the owner of Platypus Dreamin' Educational Programs and Bush Education– is on a mission to raise awareness of Australian Aboriginal culture.

Wendy has worked in childcare and as a social worker with young people.

She has been involved in her heritage sector for 30 years and learned her trade from listening to elders in the community where she was born in Walgett, northwestern NSW.

"And then it's just evolved, and I've taught myself heaps. And the more I do it, the more information I gather, because I also do cultural training. I do a lot of stuff, I’m always busy.

"Because I'm of Aboriginal descent I’m able to contact any other Aboriginal people and communities.”

No part of her job is hard to deal with, she says, because she has so much experience under her belt.

She now offers cultural experiences to anyone interested in learning more about Aboriginal culture.

From preschool children where she focuses on communication and mapping, through to adults where they can learn about bush medicine and take part in a healing ceremony- Wendy has a vast wealth of knowledge to share.

When running training sessions, she challenges the audience to ask racist questions.

"Ask me anything, because I don't get embarrassed.

“And if I don’t know the answer, I find it for them.”

Some children who think they are funny ask if her colour comes off.

In response, she just pulls up her sleeves and says: "'Come here, sweetheart, and feel it."'

When asked, Wendy is happy to explain to the audience that Aboriginal people come in all colours.

"Some people could be short, can be very, very tall. And some people have red hair, have blond hair. It doesn't matter – it’s about what’s in your heart," she says.

In her time, attitudes to colour have changed tremendously.

Born in 1958, she was counted as an animal until she was nine.

"Then I was counted as a human," she says, referring to the 1967 Referendum, before which Aboriginal people were classed under the Flora and Fauna Act.

This May, to mark the referendum's 50th anniversary, she led a community mural painting at the Aboriginal Cultural and Community Centre.

Designed by Wendy, the mural features a circle in the middle which represents her family.

Outside these circles are many hand prints facing towards the centre.

These hand prints are symbolic of the support for the 1967 Referendum.

The other circles and dots in the mural represent all the Aboriginal communities in Australia.

One of her aims is to teach kids to embrace all cultures.

She also tells them to listen to their parents.

The biggest misunderstanding she encounters is that she and other Aboriginal people know everything.

In fact, she says, she is always learning.

“I’m learning all the time,” she said.

When attending training or meetings, she listens, take notes and adds details to her memory bank.

"I've got a massive memory bank. I've got a memory like an elephant." 

One thing has remembered her whole life is something her father told her. 

"If you make a mistake, write it in the air, rub it out and throw it behind you.. It's behind you, you move forward. You have to learn from your mistakes.”

-with SMH


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