Thursday, 26 September 2019

A True First Nations Warrior

WARNING: This story includes the name and image of a deceased Aboriginal person.

The Uniting Church and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) are mourning the passing of Indigenous rights “warrior” Tauto Sansbury this week.

The Narungga elder, who was born at Point Pearce Mission on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, dedicated his life to advocating for justice for First Peoples.

Tauto was especially passionate about overcoming high incarceration rates of Aboriginal people and was deeply involved in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

In 2015 he was a recipient of a NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tauto worked alongside UAICC South Australia on the “Suicide: It’s No Secret” campaign launched in 2011 which aimed to change the culture of silence around suicide and raise awareness of rising rates of suicide in Aboriginal communities.

He was involved in work towards a treaty between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in South Australia and served as state chair of the South Australian Aboriginal Justice Advocacy Committee and chair of the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee for more than a decade.

UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer, who worked alongside Tauto when she was the South Australia Moderator, paid tribute to his dedication to the marginalised and voiceless.

“Tauto was an amazing, passionate advocate, with an enduring commitment to reconciliation and justice for First Peoples. He will be deeply missed,” said Dr Palmer.

“We keep in our prayers Tauto’s family and friends, and all those mourning this great loss.”

UAICC National President Rev. Garry Dronfield said it was a sad time for the nation losing such an inspirational man who persevered in work for justice for Aboriginal people.

“We go forward in the hope that Tauto has inspired other people to continue fighting for justice for First Peoples and that his cause will never be lost.”

“Condolences to his family from UAICC members across the country.”

Rev. Ken Sumner from UAICC South Australia described Tauto as “one of the most dedicated freedom fighters of our time, a true First Nations warrior.”

In a statement shared by The Advertiser newspaper, friends and family have remembered Tauto as a “courageous leader”.

“He was a recognised leader and Elder, he spoke truth to power at times when others felt they were unable to,” the statement said.  

Tauto Sansbury 2