Because of Her, We Can – Evelyn Scott
“That was the most wonderful feeling, walking across the bridge [at the People’s Walk for Reconciliation] with my brothers and sisters. I saw people from the Indigenous and wider communities, old people and young people alike, waving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags… I saw one part of the nation that wanted to say sorry and another part accept the apology, and forgive.”
Dr Evelyn Scott’s fierce yet dignified leadership was instrumental to many of the key achievements in Australia’s reconciliation journey to date.
Dr Scott was a driver of the 1967 referendum, a momentous turning point in Australian history where more than 90 per cent of voters chose to delete discriminatory references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution. Then, in 1973, she became the first General-Secretary of the Indigenous-led Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
As the chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Dr Scott lead the coordination of the People’s Walk for Reconciliation across the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of Corroboree 2000. More than a quarter of a million people participated in the walk, while thousands more took part in similar events around the country, making it one of the most significant mobilisations of people in Australia’s history.
Sadly, Dr Scott passed away in 2017. She became the first Aboriginal woman to be accorded the honour of a state funeral by the Queensland government, in recognition of more than 50 years of tireless campaigning for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.