The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has paid tribute to Mr William Bates, a Wilcannia community leader who sadly passed away on the weekend.
“I acknowledge Mr Bates’ lifelong determination, struggle and commitment to his community,” said Minister Scullion.
A Wanyuparlku, Malangapa, Bakandji man and active member of the wider Murdi Paaki community, Mr Bates was a strong and passionate advocate for Aboriginal people.
“Mr Bates was a founding member of the Western Aboriginal Legal Service, where he worked for many years as a Field Officer, providing Aboriginal people with access to legal advice and assistance.
“And as Chair of the Mutawintji Local Aboriginal Land Council, he fought for the hand-over of the Mutawintji National Park, which is now a strong example of Aboriginal management of country also delivering economic benefits for community through local tourism.
“He will be remembered as a tireless defender of Aboriginal people, a man who wore many hats for his community including as the Founding Chairperson of the Maari Ma Health Service in Broken Hill, Board Member of the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office and Chairperson and Director of Murdi Paaki Regional Enterprise Corporation.
“From advocating for improved housing, promoting better education, health and employment outcomes for his community and pursuing the recognition of land rights for his people, Mr Bates’ legacy will live on in the achievements and gains he made for the region.
“Mr Bates fought for the best interests of his community and for all of Australia his whole life, continuing his advocacy and support for better outcomes for Wilcannia to his death.
“My thoughts and condolences are with Mr Bates’ wife, Norma, his family and the Wilcannia community at this sad time.”