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Richard Walley OAM

b. 1953

Richard Walley OAM (b. 1953) is a former Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council. A Nyoongar man, he was born at Meekatharra and grew up in Pinjarra. In 1978, he co-founded the Middar Aboriginal Theatre with friends including Ernie Dingo. Stage and television productions he acted in and/or wrote through the 1980s include The Dreamers, A Fortunate Life, Coordah and Close to the Bone. He has performed internationally on the didgeridoo and has released several recordings; his more recent CDs include Two tribes (2003) which blends traditional Indigenous sounds with rap and hip hop. He received a doctorate of letters from Murdoch University in 2001 in recognition of his contribution to Nyoongar culture and the wider community. Walley has also gained renown as a visual artist; his designs include the commemorative plate for the 400th anniversary of Australian and Dutch relations (2006), in the collection of the National Library. In March 2010, Ernie Dingo and Richard Walley told the Australian that they had devised and performed the very first ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony, of the kind with which all Australians are now familiar, as a courtesy to visiting Pacific Islanders in Perth in 1976. The founder and director of Aboriginal Productions and Promotions, Walley has recently played the didgeridoo on tour with the John Butler Trio.

Updated 2018