Murray Seiffert’s passion as a writer arises from his strong commitment to national reconciliation; also that before this can happen, non-Indigenous Australians must improve their understanding of the history and lives of Indigenous people.
His training and experience as a scholar naturally lead him to a strong commitment to careful research, reported in straight-forward language. He is a fan of Karl Popper who wrote: Anyone who cannot speak [or write] simply and clearly should say nothing and continue to work until he can do so.
He decided to write Gumbuli of Ngukurr: Aboriginal Elder in Arnhem Land when he realised the scarcity of material about Aboriginal people whose lives spanned the early days of European influence and who remained living in remote Australia.
Gumbuli of Ngukurr won the 2012 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award; it was also short-listed for the 2012 Chief Minister’s Northern Territory History Book of the Year Award for 2012.
Refuge on the Roper: The Origins of the Roper River Mission, Ngukurr was short-listed for 2009 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award.
Murray grew up in rural Victoria before taking degrees in agricultural science and education on the way to becoming a high school teacher. After many years at the University of Melbourne, Murray served as Academic Dean at Darwin’s Nungalinya College from 2001–2006 and spending time in Arnhem Land. He found living on the college campus with Indigenous leaders from many parts of Australia was both a privilege and a learning experience.
Murray used his skills as a social scientist to gather information for Gumbuli of Ngukurr. He soon realised that Gumbuli was a community leader at Ngukurr during the dramatic changes of the 1960s and 1970s. Discovering that very little had been published about those changes, he undertook extensive archival research in Darwin, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.
Murray holds degrees in agricultural science, education, theology and sociology.