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Thursday, 24 June 2021
Page: 47


Mr RICK WILSON (O'Connor) (13:43): I rise today to acknowledge the recent passing of one of O'Connor's most respected Indigenous elders. In consideration of his family's deep cultural beliefs, I won't use his first name. Mr Smith, a Pitjantjatjara/Ngaanyatjarra man, has been my sounding board for matters of Indigenous heritage, culture, education and welfare. He may have left this world but his legacy lives on in the projects and services he helped establish for his people and his greater northern goldfields community.

I first met Mr Smith in May 2014 on a trip to the Ngaanyatjarra lands with the then Minister for Indigenous Affairs. Mr Smith was Chair of the Ngaanyatjarra Land Council, and, in the days we spent together, he outlined to me my responsibilities as the MP representing these lands and his people.

Over the years it has been my honour to introduce him to the federal ministers and even the Prime Minister, to whom he has advocated in his quiet but determined way. His priorities have always been Indigenous education and training opportunities, pathways off welfare dependency and into meaningful employment, and support for grandcarers. He and his wife, Janice, were grandcarers and positive role models for the many children who spent time in their home. To Janice and his extended family, I offer my heartfelt condolences on the loss of a great man taken too soon, with so much still to offer his community.