Dr Hope O’Chin returned to her old home town Cherbourg to launch her book at the Ration Shed Museum and pay her respects to her many friends in the community (Photo: Cherbourg Radio)
Dr Hope O’Chin’s new book examines how art and education can help foster a more cohesive Australia

February 22, 2024

A book that explores the ways art and education can help promote healing was launched in Cherbourg earlier this month.

Dr Hope O’Chin, now in her 70s, said she had returned to the town where she was born for the launch to show respect to the many connections she has in the community.

She told Cherbourg Radio the dormitory system was still in force when she was a child.

Her parents were the “house parents” of the Boys Dormitory and her father Jack later went on to become chairman of Cherbourg Council.

Dr O’Chin’s  career spans both education and art.

She worked in education from the 1980s, including a stint as an Assistant Executive Director of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Education.

She also turned her hand to art, becoming a professional artist in 1991.

In 2021, Dr O’Chin earned a Doctorate of Philosophy  after being awarded an honorary doctorate in education two years earlier.

Her new book traces not only the history of the Barambah Aboriginal Settlement (renamed Cherbourg in 1931) but also looks at how this journey has been reflected in broader Australian society.

She noted that in 1901, one of the first acts of the newly formed Australian Government was to try to round up all Aboriginal people and forcibly put them on to missions.

It wasn’t until the 1967 referendum that things began to change.

It took a further 15 years before Cherbourg was granted a Deed of Grant in Trust and became self-managed by its own local authority, which finally gained official recognition as a Council in 1986.

Dr O’Chin said it took the Mabo decision in 1992 – supplemented by the Native Title Act of 1993 – to recognise the fact that Indigenous people had lived in Australia for thousands of years and were entitled to enjoy rights to their land according to their own laws and customs.

She believes the Australian Constitution needs to be amended to formally recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Nations of Australia.

However, she believes art and education can provide a bridge between cultures to produce a genuinely healed, reconciled and united nation at some point in the future.

Dr O’Chin’s book, “An Epistemology Of Belongingness”, is being published by the Springer Nature Group in hard cover, soft cover and ebook formats, and will be available later this year.

Dr Hope O’Chin, at front, at the recent book launch in Cherbourg (Photo: Cherbourg Radio)


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