Patrons & Founders
Dr Richard Walley
Yirra Yaakin Patron
Dr Richard Walley OAM
Born in Meekatharra (about 750km north of Perth) in 1953, as a child Richard moved with his family to Pinjarra, 80 kms south of Perth.
At 23 he was chairing the Aboriginal Advisory Board and was actively involved in the formation or operation of the Aboriginal Housing Board, Aboriginal Medical Service, Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Alcoholism Committee, Aboriginal Sports Foundation and the New Era Aboriginal Fellowship.
In 1978 Dr Walley began his illustrious career in the Arts, when, with three friends, he formed the Middar Aboriginal Theatre.
Aiming to take the Nyungar culture from the South West corner of Western Australia to as many people as possible, Middar’s success can be gauged by its results. During its lifetime, the Middar group performed in thirty-two countries, on every continent, to live audiences totalling almost ten million people.
After acting in theatre and TV, Richard went on to further develop his theatre skills, holding the role of either director or assistant director in 10 productions in theatre and TV from 1982 through to 1993. Several of these productions took place in the USA and London. During this period Richard also wrote several screenplays.
Richard’s versatility and thirst for new challenges has seen him branch out into other areas of the arts. He is a renowned didgeridoo player and has produced a six CD collection of didgeridoo music that is inspired by the six seasons of the Nyungar calendar. Richard’s latest musical project is ‘Two Tribes’, a collaboration with a group of artists which has resulted in an eclectic selection of songs combining traditional Indigenous music with contemporary styles including rap and hip hop.
His didgeridoo playing live performances have been at the Albert Hall in London, Greece, Slovenia, Japan, Mexico, the USA, and Canada, to name but a few. In 2001 he performed in Westminster Abbey for dignitaries, including the Queen of England, as part of the Centenary of Federation celebrations.
Richard is also a visual artist, with his works in much demand by collectors in Australia and overseas.
In 1993 Richard was awarded the ’Order of Australia’ Medal for his contribution to the Performing Arts and Nyungar culture.
In 2000, Richard accepted the position of Chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council, a position he had held previously in 1992.
In 2001, Murdoch University in Western Australia recognised his contribution to Nyungar culture and the wider community with an honorary Doctorate of Letters.
A fluent speaker of Nyungar language, a role model for Aboriginals and non-Aboriginal people alike, Richard continues to push boundaries, continually developing personally, whilst, always focussed on the bigger ‘community’ picture of the Arts, Culture and Environment.