The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion has paid tribute to Dr Evelyn Scott AO, the renowned Aboriginal leader and activist who passed away yesterday surrounded by family in Cairns.
Born in Ingham, Far North Queensland in 1935, Dr Scott’s political activism began at the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League in the 1960s.
“Dr Scott contributed immeasurably to reconciliation in Australia,” said Minister Scullion.
“Dr Scott was instrumental in the 1967 Yes campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – one of the most important events in our modern history.
Following the successful referendum, Dr Scott worked to fight discrimination and improve the lives of First Australians, with a focus on the transformative power of education.
In 1973, Dr Scott served as the first General-Secretary of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
In the late 1990s, Dr Scott served as the Chairperson of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, culminating in another key moment in modern Australian history with the May 2000 Walk for Reconciliation.
In the spirit of reconciliation, Dr Scott marched with more than 250,000 people across Sydney Harbour Bridge. In her address, she spoke eloquently on reconciliation:
“Our struggle for Indigenous rights and equality is bound up inextricably with the rights of all Australians. Our freedom is your freedom. Reconciliation is not an isolated event but part of the fabric of this nation.”
Following their mother’s passing, the Scott and Backo family noted that Dr Scott became involved in activism at a time when First Australians suffered terribly due to systemic discrimination. Much of the progress made in Queensland and across Australia can be attributed to her campaigning.
Dr Scott is survived by four daughters, a son and seven grandchildren.
“I wish to pass on my sincere condolences to Dr Scott’s family and to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout the country at this time.