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Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder labelled "difficult" and removed from Obama event

Emma Ruben -

A Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder and Traditional Owner has been slighted by event organisers of An Evening with Barack Obama in Naarm (Melbourne).

Elder and Traditional Owner Aunty Joy Murphy was excited to be given an opportunity to Welcome former US President Obama to Country on Wurundjeri land.

However she was removed by event organisers from performing the Welcome to Country ceremony for the event after the she asked to make appropriate accommodations for a support person to attend alongside her and a request to provide Mr Obama with a gift in line with cultural practice.

According to the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, Aunty Joy was removed from the event proceedings and told she was being "too difficult" by the event organisers, Growth Faculty.

Earlier in the week Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation called on Mr Obama to acknowledge Country during his visit to Naarm.

The Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Traditional Owners have taken offence at the removal of Aunty Joy from the Welcome to Country protocol.

Aunty Joy, 78, has welcomed dignatries to Wurundjeri Country such as the Queen, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama.

As the Senior Aboriginal Elder of the Wurundjeri People, she has been Welcoming people to Country for over 40 years.

"They have always shown me respect and accepted my Welcome as a gift from our people," Aunty Joy said.

"I have been shocked and distressed by the way I have been treated by event organisers.

"I am 78 years of age. I have never been treated or spoken to in this way in the past. I do not want this to be a reflection on President Obama. I am a leader of the Wurundjeri Nation. I asked to be treated as an equal."

Aunty Joy was also removed from performing traditional cultural protocols at a business lunch with Mr Obama on Thursday.

The Growth Faculty have since apologised to Aunty Joy Murphy and reinvited her from performing a Welcome to Country at the business lunch.

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