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‘A giant in the fight for First Nations justice’

It is with great sadness that Reconciliation Australia sends our condolences to the family and friends of the Rev. Dr D. Gondarra OAM.

Respected lawman of the Dhurili clan of north-east Arnhem Land and a key Aboriginal leader over decades, Dr Gondarra was a highly effective advocate for his Yolŋu culture and language.

He worked relentlessly for the recognition of his peoples’ sacred Yolŋu Rom (law), establishing the Mawul Rom project, to educate and build a dialogue with non-Indigenous people.

A man dynamic in both his Yolŋu society and mainstream Australia, Dr Gondarra was also the co-founder of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and the first Aboriginal Moderator of the Uniting Church in northern Australia.

He was a leading figure in the development of an Aboriginal Christian theology and was the first Indigenous person to sit on the World Council of Churches.

Dr Gondarra was a dedicated supporter of the reconciliation movement, serving as a member of The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Reconciliation Australia’s predecessor.

But his great love was for his Yolŋu people and culture, and he served his people as the first Yolŋu chairman of the Arnhem Land Progress Association (ALPA) – a position he held for 30 years.

His skills in governance and business were demonstrated by the massive growth of ALPA during his leadership. From a small organisation ALPA expanded to operate more than 25 stores and deliver major community service programs and enterprise businesses throughout Arnhem Land.

Dr Gondarra was a giant in the fight for First Nations justice and his legacy will continue to support and encourage Australians to work together to build a better, more just and reconciled country.

www.reconciliation.org.au

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