Stephanie Armstrong OAM

Emerging Leader 2013 – 2014

Stephanie Armstrong OAM

Stephanie Armstrong OAM is a proud Gamilaraay woman who has strong links with Victoria through family and friends. From a very early age, she looked to teach and learn. A large extended family provided her with many realities that guided her teaching. Her 40 years of experience in education has provided her with the satisfaction of talking and listening to many children and their families. Returning to Victoria after 25 years in other states led her to work in numerous roles both at state and national levels.

Stephanie worked part-time with Weenthunga Health Network to provide leadership in strength based approaches to young women and their sense of identity. Her other focus was to increase the knowledge and understandings of Australians who wish to support improved Indigenous health out­comes. Her energy has seen her present workshop from schools to Universities so as to provide an informed network of supporters to local students. Always encouraging all to work with compassion, love and courage. Her respected position now sees her being termed as an Aunty, not only within her local Bendigo community but further afield in Victoria.

Stephanie has worked with a few key women to provide the opportunity for young Aboriginal women studying years 10 to 12 to come to Melbourne to be a part of a “Women’s Talk: Health Day.” The day provided these young women with the opportunity to hear the stories of nine to 12 Aboriginal women who are currently working in the health field. Stephanie believes that young Aboriginal women will be engaged and inspired by being given the opportunity to listen to the stories of Aboriginal women who are already working in health careers.

Stephanie is passionate about working with young women as they play key roles in their communities as carers, mothers, sisters and aunties. Despite their important role, they remain under-represented in programs designed for young Aboriginal youth. She believes in listening and working with young Aboriginal women so that their voices are heard.

Her commitment to change and giving voice and strength to being an Aboriginal woman has been at the core of her work within her teaching career as an educational consultant and as a researcher.

Over a number of years, Stephanie has supported students and their teachers, either as a guest lecturer, teacher, a friend or a mentor across a number of schools in Victoria, Ceduna Area School (SA) and within the Western Australian Education System (Kimberley and Pilbara).

In 2019 she was the first Aboriginal Level 3 Manager within a school context in WA. She hoped that the stepping back into a school ground would provide insights, courage and humility to create space for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students’ voice to lead and transform an education system which has been challenged by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators for decades.

Stephanie was the Inaugural Chair of Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong (KWT) from 2019 – 2021.  KWT is Victoria’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led philanthropic fund.


  • Chapter Co-Author, Two Way Teaching and Learning: Toward culturally reflective and relevant education, Australian Council for Education Research, 2011.
  • Co-Author, Starting school: a strengths‐based approach towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, Australian Council for Education Research, 2012.
  • Co-Author, An Investigation into the Attendance and Retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Students: Research and theory about what work, Australian Council for Education Research, 2011.

Awards and Recognition include:

  • Equal Opportunity Award, Equal Opportunity Commission, 1989.
  • Rowan Nicks Russell Drysdale Fellow, Indigenous Health, 2013.
  • Bendigo NAIDOC Recognition Award, 2016.
  • Local Aboriginal Network Award, 2017.
  • Commitment to Indigenous Health Award, Indigenous Allied Health Australia, 2018.
  • Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2024 for service to Aboriginal and Torres Strait health and education.


“This morning I sat quietly on the train from Bendigo to Melbourne and read the Fellowship book from front to back. The power of reading and hearing others’ stories is what has kept me going over 30 years of being a part of an educational system that often does not hear, or is often not ready to learn from our stories.But after the last five years, I believe that there are many more opportunities for our stories to be heard. We just need to take the time to tell the “yarn.” Put worth in our stories and that no one can tell your story.

I listened intently to my mother’s stories, as well as those of my family and friends, and each added to my life. They made me appreciate the love and knowledge that comes from sharing stories. I always begin my professional learning workshops with my story so those listening can know me a little better.I share my stories to teach, empower, to make others laugh, to build friendships and see the strength, and let everyone see the “brightness” of being Aboriginal. If you are willing to listen and learn, we can enrich each other’s lives. Mandela spoke of “brightness” and this idea has stayed with me over the past 10 years. In its simplest form, it’s the idea of everyone having the right to be themselves and shine. I wish for our young Aboriginal women to shine, to be proud of their identity and to follow their dreams.

Stephanie Armstrong 2014