Henrietta Marrie AM
Henrietta Marrie AM (Masters in Environmental and Local Government Law; Dip. T; Grad. Dip. of Arts [Indigenous Studies]) is an Elder of the Gimuy Walubara clan of the Yidinji people and Traditional Owner of the land on which the City of Cairns and southern suburbs are now located. Henrietta was born in Yarrabah on her mother’s Gunggandji country and spent her early years growing up there until her family moved to Palm Island in the mid 1960s. Henrietta has wide experience in Indigenous cultural and natural resource management and impact assessment, intellectual and cultural property law, heritage legislation and philanthropy. As an academic she has had published over 80 papers in books and journals.
In the 1980’s and 1990s, Henrietta wrote extensively on issues related to Indigenous arts and the repatriation of cultural property from museums. She served for 6 years with the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, Canada before becoming the Program Officer/Manager for North Australia with The Christensen Fund, a California-based private philanthropic fund, a position in which she served for nine years. She was also a Visiting Fellow with the United Nations University – Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (based in Tokyo, and which serves as a research institution and “think tank” for various UN agencies) working on the Institute’s Traditional Knowledge Initiative. Henrietta is Professor and part-time expert advisor with University of Queensland, QAAFI – Agricultural Research Centre and training. She is a Co-Patron of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, a position she shares with the Governor of Queensland. Henrietta is listed among the Westpac and Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence for 2014 for her work in public policy.
On January 26th 2018 Henrietta was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division, and on June 8th she was recognised as a Queensland Great. Recently she was appointed by the Minister for Indigenous Australians to the Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and is also a member of the Queensland Human Rights Commission’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and serves on the board of the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (QIFVLS). Subject of a stunning mural portrait by Claire Foxton on the southern wall of the Cairns Corporate Tower, Lake Street, Henrietta’s life and accomplishments have also been dramatized in the play Bukal produced by the JUTE Theatre Company in association with CQUniversity, and premiering on 10th July 2018.
At the invitation of the CEO, Henrietta carried out an extensive investigation into racially discriminatory behaviours against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff at the Cairns Hospital and Hinterland Health Service in 2013. As an outcome, Henrietta jointly with her husband Adrian Marrie designed a Matrix to identify, measure and monitor institutional racism within the public health sector and continued to carry out further studies using the “Marrie Matrix” as the auditing tool. Two recent reports in which the Matrix was used are: the Anti-Discrimination Queensland (now Queensland Human Rights Commission) report Addressing Institutional Barriers to Health Equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Queensland’s Public Hospitals and Health Services (Marrie, A. 2017); and the Health Performance Council of South Australia’s Institutional Racism Matrix Audit of South Australia’s Ten Local Health Networks (Marrie A. and Bourke C. 2020).
Henrietta participated in the latter audit regarding stakeholder interviews with Aboriginal health experts and community leaders. The use of the Matrix as a tool to address institutional racism has led to significant changes in Queensland’s public health system to eliminate institutional racism, including amendments to the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld).
Henrietta was the Chief Investigator for the National Environmental Science Program funded Great Barrier Reef Indigenous Tourism Project. The report Great Barrier Reef Indigenous Tourism: Translating Policy into Practice (Galloway McLean K., Marrie A. and Marrie H 2020) was published in March 2020.