Our Story

NINI was founded to celebrate the life of an exceptional and proud South Australian Aboriginal woman who lived her life to the absolute fullest for her children, her very large family, her community, and most of all, for her people.

NINI seeks to end violence in any form of any kind at any time.

Nini

Nini

In 1991, Nini was the victim of a tragic set of circumstances that led to her murder through community violence. She was 40 years young.

But this tragedy has not defined her. This story celebrates her life and what she stood up for, not about her sudden death, although it carries a particularly important message.

Her life represents love, courage, education, humility, happiness, humour, reconciliation and a deep spiritual connection to country, stories, identity, and culture.

One of fifteen children, Nini was a middle child who helped her “Mumma” (Ngarrindjeri nation) bring up the younger children. When her father “Ol Man Daddy,” (Ramindjeri nation) died in a car accident she was only 11 years old.

During earlier times her parents moved to Pt Pearce mission (Narungga nation). From there the younger children grew older, and made many friends with family and community, but eventually her family left Point Pearce mission to explore the world outside of the confines of the Aboriginal mission station.

Nini decided to join the RAAF and continue a family involvement in the Armed Forces. Both her father and grandfather had served, her grandfather died in action in WW1 on the Western Front in France. Nini joined the RAAF and as fate would have it, she met her husband who was in the Army, and they would marry and have four sons.

After leaving the Airforce, Nini become one of the founding members and Director of an Aboriginal ‘pre-‘pre-school, which became known as Tjitji Wiltja (meaning Child Shelter) in Port Augusta, South Australia. It was for Indigenous children between the ages of 2 ½ and 4 where they could experience the social contacts and educational experiences which many middle-class children already experience in the home. Such experiences would help prepare the children for kindergarten when they turn 4 and 5.

This experience ignited a fire and passion within Nini (like Kondoli the creator of fire) for Aboriginal education, which would lead her to become the first in her family to attend university and study Social Work. Despite these achievements, she was not prepared for the racism and tragedies that lay ahead. In 1984, her youngest brother who was an accomplished musician and poet, died in Fremantle Prison at the age of 25 years young, after suffering a brutal beating. The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody described his death as “a misguided use of force.” This trauma left a permanent scar on the family and for Nini she had tragically lost her youngest brother that she brought up like a son.

Nini continued working occasionally but mostly being a proud Mum and wife, Aunty and sister to her family and so many others, often performing various community endeavours for her people. One of her proudest achievements was when she moved to Coober Pedy as the Homemaker Centre Coordinator undertaking cultural and home living skills activities with the Aboriginal women and their children. With two of her sisters, Nini ensured the women had a safe communal place to connect, cook, play, access support and yarn with each other in a culturally safe and sensitive environment.

Nini lived to see a bright future for all people, a safe and aspirational one, where learning occurred in two worlds, Indigenous and non-Indigenous. But for Nini, stressful life events and psychological distress weakened her mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. For Aboriginal people, this is further complicated by a history of colonisation and its intergenerational legacies of grief and loss, intergenerational trauma, violence, removal from family and cultural dislocation, substance abuse, racism, and social disadvantage.

NINI aims to minimise the profound impact grief, loss and trauma has on all people, in particular Indigenous people through…. 

‘Transforming lives, through yarning with purpose, connecting to meaning, and counselling to improve self‘

in a culturally safe and sensitive way…. yarn safely with professionals and with support from each other, make things better for the next generations.

Nini’s legacy continues today through the countless people who have been inspired by her. We re-member Nini and all those who lost their life through violence, we encourage all those who have been affected by violence to seek help and support.

Her nickname and her story are the catalyst for NINI.