Chair, Northern Land Council
Northern Territory | 2023 Australian of the Year
Dr Bush-Blanasi, Mayili man and Chair of the Northern Land Council, was instrumental in securing sea country rights for Yolngu Traditional Owners of Blue Mud Bay in eastern Arnhem Land, where his mother was born.
In 2022 he helped establish the Aboriginal Sea Company so Traditional Owners could oversee commercial fishing and aquaculture along the Northern Territory coast and support profitable and sustainable fishing practices.
Dr Bush-Blanasi supported many Aboriginal land and native title claims, and was proud of his role in helping to develop the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Education is our future. But it must be two ways – traditional law and ceremony, caring for Country, and balanda (whitefella) law and learning. This will set us up for the next 60,000 years. The referendum is about including us into the Constitution so we can have a greater say in and share the country that we call Australia. If we all work together and have one mindset to move forward, we will get there.
Dr Bush-Blanasi died in November 2023.
T-shirt and family photographs
Dr Bush-Blanasi wore this shirt as a leader of the successful Learning on Country program. Established by the Northern Land Council in collaboration with 15 remote Top End schools and Aboriginal ranger groups, the program focuses on ‘both ways’ learning, combining Aboriginal culture and Western-style learning. Dr Bush-Blanasi’s work with the Land Council and with Indigenous children was inspired by his mother, Clare Bush Warripanda, and stepfather, David Blanasi, who are pictured below.
This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the National Australia Day Council. Portrait images supplied by the National Australia Day Council.