For our Elders: Q&A with Lorelle Holland

6 Jul 2023

To address the 2023 National NAIDOC Week theme ‘For our Elders’, we asked HaBS academics to share their stories about some of the Elders who have inspired them, and why it’s important to have these strong relationships.

Q&A with Lorelle Holland

Lorelle Holland from UQ’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work is a proud Mandandanji woman, who grew up on Turrbal Country.

Lorelle Holland with her Grandma

Who are some of the elders you respect and why?

 I will always admire and respect my Grandmother Gladys as a Mandandanji Elder and Matriarch of my family. Grandma was a trailblazer in her community strongly opposing racism and alcohol related violence.

Why do you think it’s important to have strong relationships with your elders?

 It is important to have strong relationships with Elders to nurture and grow you up well with a constant source of sovereign knowledge that is interconnected with culture, spirit, and Country for tens of millennia.

How can younger generations build stronger relationships with elders?

It is important for younger generations to be in the presence of our old people and being willing to listen to their wisdom and guidance to keep us safe and responsible in everything we do.

What have they taught you?

My Elders have taught me how to be resilient and the value of working hard and to resist complacency. I have learnt that my Elders and Ancestors have not been afforded the same privileges that I have today. For the easier path that has been spiritually gifted to me from my Ancestors and Elders I will always strive to work hard in honour of their struggles and the ongoing struggles for the liberation of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Would you like to share a story an elder told you?

 In 2019, five generations of strong Mandandanji women met on Country for little baby Lily to meet her Great Great Grandmother Gladys. Grandma was 99 years old. Little Lily’s mum Amy asked, ‘Grandma what is the secret to a long and happy life’? Grandma replied, ‘Work hard and be yourself’. I will always hold dear Grandma’s words and the empowering gathering of Mandandanji Matriarchs. Time was nearing for weary Grandma to hand over the leadership baton to the next several generations of strong Aboriginal warrior women in the room. Her words will always inspire me to work hard in all I do personally and within the academy. But it is important not to lose ‘yourself’ within a sometimes-hostile and challenging environment. For me it is really important that I remind myself to be kind and compassionate and a good human being – the person that Grandma knows me to be. By being myself, I am choosing to continue the good fight for social and political equity for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people