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West Coast loses Aboriginal leader.



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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission

Media Releases

West Coast loses Aboriginal leader

16/7/2003

The West Coast Aboriginal community has lost one of its traditional leaders and fighters for the retention of culture and heritage, following the death of Mr. Alan Dodd at Yalata last night.

Mr. Dodd, who was born at Ooldea in 1947, was actively involved in the Maralinga Land Rights Act negotiations and helped interpret between tribal elders and Government representatives.

“Alan was an initiated man and was a passionate defender of Aboriginal culture and significant sites,” according to ATSIC’s Wangka Wilurrara Regional Council Chairman Harry Miller.

“He was a great believer in traditional Aboriginal law and worked hard for his whole life to be a bridge between his people and the changing world around them,” Chairman Miller said.

“He was always looking to make sure Aboriginal culture was respected and throughout his life he remained concerned about how young people could be educated in a modern world but at the same time retain their connection to their own culture, laws and stories.

“Alan would never let anybody take things for granted and he had a habit of bringing people back to earth - even Premiers were not immune to his direct approach and wry humor.

“At meetings with VIPs or Government officials Alan would tell them to explain themselves properly in plain English.

“If other traditional people were with him, Alan would stop and speak to them in his own language so that community people could clearly understand what was being said.

“Alan was a great family man and, despite having to travel to Adelaide and interstate a lot during the last five or six years on Regional Council business, he was always looking to go ‘home’ - home to his community, his wife, children, grand children and extended family.

ATSIC’s SA Zone Commissioner Klynton Wanganeen paid tribute to the untiring work of Alan Dodd on behalf of his people.

“A person of his stature and experience will be sadly missed in South Australia and in his home country on the West Coast,” Commissioner Wanganeen said.

“I admired the way he struggled against great odds for many years to make improvements to poor living conditions faced by people in the Yalata Aboriginal Community.

“Alan fought many health problems in recent years and it is a sad reminder that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to die up to 20 years younger than people in the wider

community.

“Alan was only 55 years old and the West Coast community has been robbed of yet another leader. He will be greatly missed.

“Together with Chairman Miller and on behalf of all of the Elected Arm of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and the staff of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services in SA, I pass on my condolences to his wife, family and friends,” Commissioner Wanganeen said.

BACKGROUND:

Alan Thomas Dodd was born at Ooldea on 23 October, 1947. In his early years he traveled with his family around Nundroo, Coorabie, Wirrulla, Streaky Bay, Port Augusta and Woomera. He attended schools in Andamooka, Yunta, Port Augusta and Coober Pedy and finished his schooling at Yalata aged 16.

During his working life he was a share farmer at Carawa, was a store manager at Koonibba and worked in the Western Australian mining industry.

He attended the former Aboriginal Community College at North Adelaide and received a certificate for Pre-Vocational training. He went on to become Chairperson of the Community College in1978 and was also Chairman of the Koonibba Aboriginal Community Council from 1969 to1971 and the Koonibba Football Club for two years.

Mr. Dodd was one of the first Aboriginal people to work with the Bureau of Census and Statistics as an Aboriginal Liaison Officer. He also worked with the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movements in Ceduna as a Field Officer from 1981 to1988.

He continued to work for his people at Yalata, and was employed as a CDEP Liaison Officer and CDEP Manager. Before he became involved with ATSIC he was the Yalata Community Co Coordinator for six months.

Alan Dodd was the first Chairman of ATSIC’s Kakarrara Wilurrara Regional Council, which covered all the land west of Ceduna, the Maralinga Lands and the Nullarbor Plains right across the WA/SA state border and almost up to Kalgoorlie, from 1991 to 1993.

When that council merged with Wangka Pulka Regional Council in 1993 he was a councilor from 1993 to 1996 on the new combined Wangka Willurrara Council which covered Pt Lincoln, all of Eyre Peninsula, Ceduna and the Far West Coast. He served as Chairman of the council from 1996 to 1999 and then as a Regional Councilor from 1999 to 2002. In October 2002 he was re-elected as a Kakarrara Wilurrara Ward Councilor for another three-year term.

Mr. Dodd was appointed by the SA Governor as a foundation board member of the SA Aboriginal Housing Authority and served on the board for several years.

He was a recent recipient of a Centenary of Federation medal from the Governor General.

Media enquiries: Eric Roberts on 0417 818482