TRUE VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS – Tauto Sansbury Aboriginal Champion for Social Justice mourned

The family of Tauto Sansbury is brokenhearted at his passing at 9.10pm on 23 September.

Tauto was a South Australian Aboriginal man. He was a proud Narungga man born on Point Pearce Mission on the Yorke Peninsula, with family links on the West Coast of South Australia and also the Adelaide Plains.

Loving partner to Grace, father to Neil, Aaron, Trudy, Shane, Jack and Julie, wonderful stepdad to Anna and Rachel, Poppa to Joel, Cassie, Jayden and Charlotte and Great Poppa to Inala. His cousins, nieces and nephews and extended family are too numerous to write here.

Tauto was a courageous leader and advocate who fought relentlessly and fearlessly for social justice for Aboriginal people in all areas of life. He was a recognised leader and Elder; he spoke truth to power at times when others felt they were unable to. Tauto was a true voice for the voiceless.

Tauto was a delegate to the 2017 National Constitutional Convention where the Uluru Statement from the Heart was developed and he fully supported its message.

Tauto believed Aboriginal people would only ever be truly advanced through political engagement. As he would say… “If you’re not at the table, you’re the menu.” He had a vision for State and Federal Parliaments where the voices of First Nations peoples were heard and acted upon, that they would truly be recognised as custodians and Traditional Owners of this Land.

Law and justice for his community was a driving passion. He was deeply involved in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, working closely with Elliott Johnston, QC. He led both the National and South Australian Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committees (AJACs) for more than 10 years, both monitoring the implementation of the recommendations and working to ensure that lasting change took place regarding Aboriginal incarceration at all levels.

He was consultant to the Social Inclusion Unit undertaking community consultations on the so-called ‘Gang of 49’ for the Breaking the Cycle Report. He has worked as CEO and General Manager in health and a range of other community organisations. Most recently he was Consultant/Proprietor of his own business, Garridja Aboriginal Cultural Consultancy, where his cultural awareness sessions were second to none.

His commitment to his people saw him receive well-deserved recognition, both nationally and statewide, including an Australian Centenary Medal in 2003 from the Commonwealth: “In recognition of work as Director of the Aboriginal Justice Advocacy Committee and the National Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee.” He was also awarded Male Elder of the Year (SA NAIDOC) in 2014, the Aboriginal Lifetime Achievement Award (National NAIDOC) in 2015, the Dr Yunupingu Award in the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards 2015, Male Elder of the Year City of Port Adelaide and Enfield 2018 – just to name a few. He was also a finalist in the Australian of the Year Awards (SA) 2016.

He was a Delegate to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Chairperson of Aboriginal Family Support Services, Chairperson of Aboriginal Sobriety Group, Co-Chair of the Indigenous People’s Organisation, Deputy Chair of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, Board member of Tauondi College and a member of the SA Museum Aboriginal Advisory Committee. Always working to affect lasting and positive change, Tauto was deeply involved in numerous other committees and organisations, including the South Australian Council of Social Service.

He was proud to be a named applicant for the Narungga Nation Native Title Claim to ensure that his people were recognised under federal law as Traditional Owners of the Yorke Peninsula. Sadly, he will not see this important decision come to fruition.

Tauto’s passion for justice for Australia’s First Nations peoples saw him call the National Freedom Summit in Alice Springs in November 2014, where Aboriginal elders, leaders and community members gathered to progress work on the vital issues facing the community. The National Freedom Movement was born out of the Summit.

Tauto’s contribution is incalculable and his wisdom, knowledge, warmth, gentleness and humour will be missed by many at home and around Australia. He was a great man and an irreplaceable warrior and advocate for social justice.  

Categories: GENERAL News

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