NACCHO good news story: Indigenous Australians honoured by Australian Post


Indigenous Australians honoured by Australia Post

Warning – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that this document contains names and images of deceased people.

Five eminent Indigenous Australians are being honoured by Australia Post in a new stamp issue. There are five domestic base-rate (60c) stamps featuring Shirley Smith AM, Neville Bonner AO, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Eddie “Koiki” Mabo and Charles Perkins AO.

Since European settlement, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have fought to make Australia a more just and equitable society. This stamp issue honours five of these exceptional individuals who tirelessly campaigned for the rights of Indigenous people.

Australia Post Managing Director and CEO Ahmed Fahour said Australia Post has a long standing commitment to improving the social and economic wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

“We trust this stamp issue will remind all Australians of the significant contribution made by these important Indigenous Australians,” said Mr Fahour.

Shirley Smith AM (1921-98), also known as “Mum Shirl”, was born on Erambie Mission, Cowra, New South Wales. She was a member of the Wiradjuri nation and was a committed activist for the justice and welfare of Aboriginal Australians. She was a founding member of several important organisations including the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Aboriginal Medical Service in the Sydney suburb of Redfern. Shirley received many awards for her work, and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Neville Bonner AO (1922-99) was born on Ukerebagh Island on the Tweed River, New South Wales. In 1971 he became the first Aboriginal person to sit in the Commonwealth of Australia parliament. He also became the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to the parliament by popular vote. An elder of the Jagera people, Neville Bonner continued to be a strong advocate for Indigenous rights until his death in 1999.

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) (1920-93) was a descendant of the Noonuccal people of Minjerribah, North Stradbroke Island, Queensland. Oodgeroo was a poet, political activist, artist, educator and environmentalist. In 1962, she was instrumental in advocating for citizenship rights for Indigenous people. Oodgeroo received numerous awards in recognition of a lifetime commitment to Indigenous peoples and her outstanding contributions to Australian literature. She was awarded three honorary doctorates by universities within Australia.

Eddie “Koiki” Mabo (1936-92) was born in the Meriam community of Las on Mer, known as Murray Island, in the Torres Strait, Queensland. In 1982 Eddie challenged land ownership laws in the High Court of Australia and won. The notion of terra nullius (land belonging to no one) was expelled from Australian law paving the way for the Native Title Act 1993 (Cwlth). In 1992, Eddie was posthumously awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Native Title Act.

Charles Perkins AO (1936-2000) was born at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Aboriginal Reserve in the Northern Territory. His parents were Arrernte and Kalkadoon people. In 1965 Perkins led the Freedom Rides, exposing racial discrimination throughout country NSW. From 1984 until 1988 he was Secretary of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the first Aboriginal Australian to attain such a position in the bureaucracy. In his post-public service life Perkins played key roles on the boards of Aboriginal arts, sport and media organisations. He was a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), serving as Deputy Chairman from 1994 to 1995, and was also a member of the Arrernte Council of Central Australia.

The stamps were designed by Lynette Traynor of the Australia Post Design Studio.

Products associated with this stamp issue include a first day cover, stamp pack, set of five maxicards, prestige booklet, gutter strip of 10 x 60c stamps with design and a roll of 200 x 60c self-adhesive stamps.

The Indigenous Leaders stamp issue is available from 9 July 2013 at participating Australia Post retail outlets, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online while stocks last.