top of page
Reconciliation Australia honours Dr Gordon Briscoe AO

[supplied by Reconciliation Australia]


Reconciliation Australia acknowledges the remarkable life and achievements of Dr Gordon Briscoe AO who passed away in late June. 

A Marduntjara and Pitjantjatjara man, Dr Briscoe’s childhood was severely impacted by racism, the Northern Territory Aboriginals Act, and the assimilationist policies of the time. 

From leaving school unable to read and write he went on to become a professional soccer player in England, an influential leader in the Aboriginal rights movement and eventually the first Aboriginal person to earn a PhD.  

His contribution to the development of Aboriginal community-controlled institutions was enormous. He helped establish the Aboriginal Legal Service, the Aboriginal Medical Service, and the National Tribal Council. In 1971, Dr Briscoe served as the National Tribal Council’s inaugural Minister for Health. 

He was an important figure in the establishment of the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra in 1972.

With Professor Fred Hollows he was one of the architects of the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program, which challenged the racism and complacency of Australia’s health system. It is no exaggeration to say that without Dr Briscoe’s skills and efforts this groundbreaking health program would not have had the success it did. 

Dr Briscoe lived a life of reconciliation. With a sharp intellect and an infectious sense of humour he took immense pride in his culture and fought his whole life for the rights and recognition of his people. 

His work and achievements demonstrate the benefits of respectful relationships between First Nations people and other Australians and how relationships built on trust can produce substantial results and ultimately change the world. 

This year, we celebrated National Reconciliation Week with the theme Be a Voice for Generations. 

Dr Gordon Briscoe was a voice for his generation, and his achievements have had a profound impact on the generations that have come after him to create a more just, equitable and reconciled country for all. 

He was a warm-hearted, and charming man. 

Dr Briscoe will be honoured at a memorial on Yuin Country in Yangary (Batemans Bay) on the NSW South Coast. 

Reconciliation Australia honours Dr Briscoe for his legacy of social justice and academic excellence. 

We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Norma, his children Aaron, Lisa and John, and to his extended Mardudjara and Pitjantjatjara family. 


Read more

Meet the young people helping to preserve Australia's Indigenous languages [Kyle Dowling, ABC] The language of Thomas Watson's people is no longer spoken. He's a Gangulu man whose family are from Central Queensland. Raised in Katherine and now living in Melbourne, Mr Watson didn't grow up speaking the Gangulu language.

Read more

UN agency removes assertions Tasmanian Aboriginal people are 'extinct' and thylacines may still exist from website [Jano Gibson, ABC] A UN agency has removed a historical document from its website that incorrectly stated Tasmanian Aboriginal people are "an extinct race of humans" — and a suggestion thylacines may still be roaming the wilderness.

Read more

Business graduate champions heritage and education [by Tiahna Fiddling] Trailblazing businesswoman and First Nations leader Kerry Staines donned her graduation gown in a celebration of her determination, education, and heritage at CQUniversity’s Brisbane Graduation Ceremony.







bottom of page