House debates

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Statements by Members

Nelson, Mr Jagamara

1:29 pm

Photo of Warren SnowdonWarren Snowdon (Lingiari, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for External Territories) Share this | | Hansard source

Central Australia and the Northern Territory have lost a remarkable community leader with the passing of Jagamara Nelson, who died at Yuendumu last Sunday afternoon surrounded by his family. He was a very close friend of mine for over 35 years. He was a consistent source of advice and support to me over that time.

Born in 1940 at Mount Doreen cattle station, he moved with his parents to Yuendumu around 1946. In 1959 Jagamara finished his primary education at Yuendumu, did an apprenticeship as a mechanic and later became a teacher, starting at Darwin and working at Yuendumu, before becoming a worker with the outstation movement as an assistant community adviser. He played footy and was a mainstay of Yuendumu Sports Weekend. However, it is for his skills as a Warlpiri interpreter from his earliest days with the land rights movement that he is most well known.

He was a true leader of enormous stature, great intellect and knowledge; a strong voice; and an absolute believer and advocate for truth telling and the recognition of Aboriginal rights, and land rights in particular. He was a fighter to the end. I met him just before Christmas, and he said he hoped that those following in his footsteps would continue to protect knowledge, country and culture. He'll be sadly missed. He was a leader of outstanding significance to the whole of the Northern Territory community.