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Monday, 15 September 2003
Page: 20110


Ms O'BYRNE (9:27 PM) —Ida West—or `Aunty Ida' as she was known to most people in Tasmania—a fine ambassador for Tasmania and Australia on peace and reconciliation, died last Monday in Hobart following a battle with cancer. I want to take this opportunity to express my condolences to Aunty Ida's family and the wider Tasmanian Aboriginal community, who, along with the many people whose hearts she touched, will miss her greatly. Aunty Ida was one of Tasmania's most respected Aboriginal elders. She was an inspiration in many ways, particularly in her role in bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Tasmanians. Only last year she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, as well as being named NAIDOC Female Elder of the Year.

One of the defining moments for Aunty Ida was the culmination of 20 years of lobbying and campaigning that saw the return of Wybalenna on Flinders Island in 1999. She said at that time:

It's pretty important you know, the land. It doesn't matter how small, it's something. We're talking about land and fighting for it. Where the bad was, we can always make good.

That pretty much sums up Aunty Ida's attitude to life: where the bad was, we can always make good. Her passing is heartfelt and her life should be celebrated for her commitment to peace, tolerance and understanding.