Reconciliation Australia’s founding Co-Chair The Hon Fred Chaney AO will step down from his position as Board Director at the end of this year—after almost 15 years on the Board.
Current Co-Chairs Dr Tom Calma AO and Ms Melinda Cilento commended Mr Chaney for his long-standing contributions to reconciliation—contributions that were recognised earlier this year with the 2014 Senior Australian of the Year Award.
“As founding Co-Chair, Fred has worked tirelessly towards the goals of reconciliation and Reconciliation Australia is indebted to his energy and passion, which show no signs of abating,” Dr Calma said.
“At a time of life when many people are content to enjoy the benefits of retirement, Fred has continued his work; travelling, talking, delivering speeches and above all else listening to the concerns of ordinary Australians, black and white, and fighting to ensure that their voices are heard in the corridors of power.”
Formerly a lawyer, Mr Chaney was an early advocate for Aboriginal voting rights and established the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia. He served as a Liberal Senator for WA (1974-90), a Member of the House of Representatives (1990-93) and held various Ministerial appointments in the Fraser government, including Aboriginal Affairs.
For many years, Mr Chaney was Deputy President of the National Native Title Tribunal and, more recently, Chair of Desert Knowledge Australia. He was also instrumental in establishing the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, which supports young Indigenous people to reach their potential.
Ms Cilento said Mr Chaney’s role as mentor and calm adviser is widely acknowledged, and is one that will be greatly missed on the Board of Reconciliation Australia.
“Fred’s life-long dedication to improving conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is characterised by an unbroken respect for those he works with, and an assurance that the voices and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are paramount. He has played such an important role in the development of Reconciliation Australia and we thank him for his outstanding work,” Ms Cilento said.
Dr Calma echoed Ms Cilento’s comments and added: “It is without doubt Fred is an Elder of reconciliation and we will continue his legacy so that one day we can all wake to a reconciled, just and equitable Australia.”