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Tributes paid to former ATSIC chair

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 27 May 2004


Tributes have been paid to the former chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), Mr Djerrkura, after he died in hospital in Nhulunbuy, on the Northern Territory's Gove Peninsula.

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Amanda Vanstone said the former ATSIC chair successfully walked in two worlds.

Senator Vanstone says he was a conscientious and forceful representative for his people.

ATSIC central zone commissioner Alison Anderson says Indigenous Australians are in mourning over the death of a great Aboriginal leader.

"I think it is a very sad day for Aboriginal people," she said.

"He has given so much to this country and also highlighted the disadvantage of his people and I think that all white Australians and Aboriginal people should mourn his death.

"He actually worked to outline the disadvantage of Indigenous people in the Northern Territory and the whole of Australia, he was a strategic man who thought about the future and was very tied up with his family and his culture and he brought that to the forefront of white Australia."

The Country Liberal Party (CLP) also mourns the loss of Mr Djerrkura, who was a long time member of the party.

CLP leader Terry Mills says Mr Djerrkura was a pioneer in spreading the message that Aboriginal Australians need a hand-up and not a hand-out.

He has urged that the Territory Government to give Mr Djerrkura a state funeral.

Queensland ATSIC Commissioner Ray Robinson says Mr Djerrkura was a proud Aboriginal man who never stopped fighting for the rights of Indigenous people.

"My sympathies go out to his family and it's a very sad day in Aboriginal Affairs, he was still a young man and it is very sad for me to hear of his passing," he said.

In line with Aboriginal custom... "Mr" Djerrkura's family has requested that his first name not be used.


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