Indigenous elder told she was ‘very difficult’ by organizers of Obama tour gets apology after being kicked out of Welcome to Country
- Wurundjeri Elder Joy Murphy, 78, was ruled out of the event
- She was scheduled to perform “Welcome to the Country” for the Obamas
- The organizers have since apologized
An Indigenous elder who was let down from giving a country welcome speech to Barack Obama’s highly anticipated tour of Melbourne has received an apology from the event’s organisers.
Wurundjeri Elder Joy Murphy, 78, was due to perform at the former US president’s welcoming address in Melbourne on Thursday night.
Before the event, she asked the organizers if she could bring a support person and a cultural gift for the Obamas.
However, the shocked old woman says she was then told she was “too tough” by the organizers, Growth College, who removed her from the event.
Since then, the College of Employment Growth has apologized to Joy.
“The Growth College of Employment Joy apologized that last night’s ceremony could not be changed,” the organizers said in a statement Thursday morning.
Aunty Joy has accepted the Growth Faculty’s invitation to perform Welcome to the Country at a Business Lunch taking place in Melbourne today
“Due to security requirements, the organization was unable to accommodate last minute changes to the agreed ceremony (on Wednesday).”
Wurundjeri Elder Joy Murphy, 78, is set to perform a welcome backcountry party for Barack Obama’s event
The spat comes as Obama and his wife, Michelle, arrive in Melbourne on a private jet, with the couple sipping coffee as they board their motorcade.
In a statement at the time, Aunt Joy said she had “never been treated or spoken to in this way.”
“I was shocked and saddened by the way the organizers of the event treated me,” she said.
I am 78 years old. I have never been treated or spoken to this way in the past.
The spat comes as Obama and his wife, Michelle, arrive in Melbourne on a private jet
I don’t want this to be a reflection on President Obama. I am the leader of a nation and a rundjerry. I asked to be treated as an equal.
The Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung Cultural Heritage Foundation also criticized the organizers calling their actions “a deep insult to the Wurundjeri people and all First Nations people”.
“Welcome to the Qatari Protocols are our traditional laws and practices that have been used to welcome and provide protection to our guests on the lands of Rundjiri for thousands of years,” a statement said.
My Aunt Joy Murphy welcomed dignitaries at the highest level to Wurundjeri Country, including the Queen, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama.
“She has had the honor and responsibility as the chief Aboriginal elder of the Worundagiri people to welcome people to our country for over 40 years.”
The former US president met former Secretary of State Julie Bishop in Sydney on Tuesday. Another 10,000 people are expected to attend the Melbourne event on Wednesday
The Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung Cultural Heritage Foundation described the incident as “a deep insult to the Wurundjeri people and all First Nations peoples.”
Former US President Barack Obama (center) waves to onlookers after leaving the Bathers Suite in Balmoral, Sydney
Wednesday’s speech is Obama’s second in the country, after he addressed a losing crowd in Sydney on Tuesday night.
Those who wanted to hear Obama speak had to dig deep into their pockets to get a ticket, with regular entry priced at just under $200.
The event’s ‘Platinum Package’, which cost $895, included a one-hour welcome cocktail at the party drinks, a commemorative lanyard and an autographed copy of Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land.
With an additional 10,500 people to see Obama speak at the Melbourne event on Wednesday, it could be a million-dollar payday.
Inside Barack Obama’s tour of Australia for paid speeches
Sunday night: Barack and Michelle Obama arrive in Sydney ahead of his speaking tour
Monday: John F. Kennedy’s daughter and US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy received the former US President at the Four Seasons Hotel
Then he met Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Kiribelli home
Obama later went for a walk along the slopes in North Head, near Manly – where more than a dozen police cars and a dozen police motorcycles waited on the nearby road.
He then attended a lunch at the Bathers Pavilion in Balmoral with Mrs. Kennedy – an eyewitness says he was dining in a room where the curtains were closed to the outside world.
Mr. and Mrs. Obama were later snapped at the Sydney Opera House on Monday evening
Tuesday: Mr. Obama was seen enjoying afternoon coffee while his wife headed out to Mossman Bay in a yacht, cruising around the harbor for about an hour
He later spoke to a crowd at the Aware Super Theater on Tuesday night for “An Evening with President Obama,” where tickets start at $195.
There, he spoke about tensions with China, Russia, artificial intelligence, and his ideas in Sydney
Wednesday: Mr. Obama and his wife enjoyed walking over the Sydney Harbor Bridge with their entourage
He will be flying to Melbourne to speak at an event on Wednesday night