Page 20 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 27 November 2012

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missed … Some of the work Isabell did locally was significant, but she covered a much larger area than just her local community, which obviously felt the benefits enormously of her contribution, but also in Sydney and elsewhere to the Aboriginal movement in general.

While the matter of the Aboriginal tent embassy has sometimes been a contentious one, today is not the appropriate time to debate those matters. While we do not agree with some of the actions taken by Ms Coe in her public life, the Canberra Liberals respect the passion and commitment Isabell brought to her community. It is clear from these testimonies that she made a significant contribution to the Aboriginal community.

To Isabell’s family and to her friends we offer our deepest condolences.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing): I would like to support and echo the comments of the Chief Minister in expressing her regrets at the sad passing of Isabell Coe on 10 November. I join with Australians, both here in Canberra and across the nation, to mourn the loss of the influential Indigenous rights activist.

Auntie Isabell, as she was known to people around the Aboriginal tent embassy, was a remarkable woman for all the reasons the Chief Minister has already mentioned. On behalf of the ACT Greens and as the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, I would like to pass on my condolences to Auntie Isabell’s family and community on the sad news of her death.

As well as the personal sadness for her direct family and community, the loss of Auntie Isabell will also be felt more widely across the broader tent embassy and activist community. Auntie Isabell spent a significant amount of time over the past four decades bringing her voice, and the voice of her community, to Canberra as the nation’s capital to call for sovereignty for Aboriginal people.

As one of the founders of the tent embassy, and a regular and continuing presence at the embassy across the years, especially on significant days such as Australia Day, which was at the embassy first called invasion day and now sovereignty day, Auntie Isabell has contributed immensely to many lively and relevant discussions around Aboriginal democracy and sovereignty.

Auntie Isabell was both an inspiration and a rock for many of the people who spent time at the tent embassy with her over the decades. The time she dedicated to the embassy allowed many people to hear her stories and learn more about her culture. Her work at the embassy certainly inspired and influenced many ACT Greens members and activists.

As the Chief Minister noted, Auntie Isabell was a proud Wiradjuri and Ngunnawal woman, an elder in the Aboriginal community, and a woman who spent her life campaigning for Indigenous rights. She knew firsthand the injustices suffered by Aboriginal people and the impact this had on their lives.

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