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ACU names lecture theatre after late Quandamooka Elder Aunty Joan Hendriks

[by Emilie Ng]

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An official plaque was unveiled on Wednesday September 21 by Aunty Joan’s daughter, Professor Cindy Shannon AM FAICD, and Aunty Joan’s youngest grandchild, Zane Hendriks. Image: supplied

One of Queensland’s most respected advocates for the rights of Indigenous Australians, the late Aunty Joan Hendriks, has had a lecture theatre named in her honour.

Australian Catholic University (ACU) has named a key lecturer theatre after the late respected Quandamooka Elder, two years after her death in 2020.

Located in the St Therese of Lisieux Building at ACU’s Banyo campus, the Aunty Joan Hendriks Lecture Theatre recognises the late elder’s lifelong advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ education, reconciliation, and justice.

Professor Shannon said it was a great honour to witness the recognition of her mum’s contribution to ACU. She said ACU was one of two places where Aunty Joan’s commitment was unfailing.

“Her passion ran extremely deep,” Professor Shannon said.

“She studied here, she taught here, she had a lifelong affiliation with ACU and it was a very, very special place to her.

“I can’t even begin to think how honoured she would be, if she were here today, to know that a lecture theatre at ACU Brisbane was named after her.”

Aunty Joan Hendriks, a Ngugi Elder, was a Catholic theologian, ACU alumna and educator who wrote extensively on intercultural and interfaith dialogue of Aboriginal Spirituality and Christianity.

She was awarded ACU’s highest honour, a Doctor of the University, in 2012 as an acknowledgement of her internationally respected advocacy work.

Following her death on Australia Day in 2020, ACU established the Aunty Joan Hendriks Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leaders Scholarship, to support emerging and current Indigenous leaders throughout their academic and professional careers.

Director of ACU’s First Peoples Director, Jane Ceolin, said the event honouring Aunty Joan Hendriks was “heartfelt” for those who knew her.

“We remember that her spirit walks with us wherever we go because all of us here have been touched in a very special way by her presence,” Ms Ceolin said.

ACU Vice-Chancellor Zlatko Skrbis said the naming of the lecture theatre in honour of Aunty Joan Hendriks memorialised one of the university’s most respected Aboriginal leaders.

“Aunty Joan Hendriks was a leader, a giver, and a visionary, a woman whose life was dedicated to service,” Professor Skrbis said.

“How well deserving that we are naming this lecture theatre after Aunty Joan Hendriks. In this way we permanently honour an amazing person. We honour her memory, her contribution, and the communities to which she belonged.”

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