Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Winnifred Evelyn (Narrandjeri) Quagliotti (1931–1988)

by Christine McPaul

This article was published:

Winnifred Evelyn (Narrandjeri) Quagliotti (1931-1988), Aboriginal community leader and Wurundjeri elder, was born in 1931 at Koondrook-Barham, on the New South Wales-Victoria border, one of ten children of William Terrick, truck driver, and his wife Jessie, née Wandin. William Barak was her great-great-uncle. Winnifred was raised on Coranderrk Aboriginal reserve, near Healesville, Victoria, and at Collingwood, Melbourne. She moved from Healesville to nearby Doveton in 1968. Known as Aunty Winnie, she was soon active in the Dandenong community, working to improve Aboriginal housing and living conditions. In 1970 she helped to set up the Dandenong & District Aboriginal Association, which established a hostel in 1972. It became the Dandenong & District Aborigines Co-operative Ltd, with Aunty Winnie as founding chairman (1975-88), providing many community facilities and activities as well as cultural programs.

During the 1970s and early 1980s Winnie worked for Aboriginal Hostels Ltd as a cleaner and cook at the Gunai Lodge hostel for boys at Dandenong and as relieving manager of the W. T. Onus Hostel, Northcote. She helped to establish (1986) the Burrai Child Care Centre, one of the first Aboriginal child-care centres to receive mainstream recognition; it was later named after her. As a council-member of Worowa Aboriginal College for secondary students, she assisted in negotiating its move from Frankston to Healesville in 1983. She was a board-member and chairman of Camp Jungai, at Rubicon near Eildon, where a conference room was later named ‘Aunty Winnie’s meeting place’.

Chairman of the Narragol Housing Co-operative, an organisation providing housing loans to Aboriginal people, in 1981 Aunty Winnie was one of eight people from the Aboriginal community elected as inaugural members of the Aboriginal Housing Board of Victoria. She served continuously as a board-member from that time and was chairperson in 1987-88. Vocal and forthright in dealing with housing standards, property maintenance and rent arrears, she treated everyone as an equal and took a confident, direct approach to Aboriginal welfare and housing issues. She was renowned for her warmth, vision and plain speaking.

Elder spokesperson for the Wurundjeri people, Aunty Winnie brought them together to form the Wurundjeri Tribe, Land Compensation and Cultural Heritage Council, which she headed from 1985. Garbed in a possum-skin cloak, and daubed with ash, she protested against the arrival of the tall ships in Melbourne as part of the bicentenary celebrations in 1988. This action is remembered as a turning point in the recognition of Aboriginal rights in Victoria. Following a meeting with the Federal minister of Aboriginal affairs Gerry Hand, she collapsed and died of a brain haemorrhage on 4 August 1988 at Heidelberg, Melbourne. She was buried in Coranderrk Aboriginal cemetery, Healesville. Paul Quagliotti and their son and daughter survived her. She is remembered as a champion for people who could not always help themselves. The AHB (now called Aboriginal Housing Victoria) named its building Narrandjeri House and commissioned a portrait in her memory.

Select Bibliography

  • S. Cahir, More Bees with Honey (2005)
  • Age (Melbourne), 20 Nov 1987, p 16, 10 August 1988, p 23, 11 Aug 1988, p 1
  • Land Rights News, 2 June 1988, p 20
  • family information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Christine McPaul, 'Quagliotti, Winnifred Evelyn (Narrandjeri) (1931–1988)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 21 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Terrick, Winnifred Evelyn

Barham, New South Wales, Australia


4 August, 1988 (aged ~ 57)
Heidelberg, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

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