Tuesday 17 March 2015
A Yorta Yorta/ Wiradjuri man, Dr Alf Bamblett was the Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited (VACSAL). In 1984 along with others, he was instrumental in establishing VACSAL.
An Elder and Leader within the Victorian Aboriginal Community Uncle Alf worked with boundless energy for over forty years driving key policy, placing an Aboriginal voice at the forefront of government decisions and strengthening the Aboriginal sector.
Dr Bamblett was the first ATSIC Commissioner elected for Victoria in 1992. While Commissioner he helped prepare a response to the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and played an integral role in negotiating the funding for programs to address the Commission’s 339 recommendations. In doing so he became the first Aboriginal man from Victoria to present to the Federal Cabinet.
He played a key role in the development and implementation of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement with a particular passion for the rights of young Aboriginal people in the justice system. He was also a Director of VACCA and Executive member of SNAICC advocating for equality and services for Aboriginal children.
Uncle Alf was recognised by his community and by the broader Victorian population over his many years of service. To sight but a few of these; in 1994 he was named Victorian Aboriginal of the Year by NAIDOC, in 2007 he received the Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award from the Victorian Law Foundation for outstanding contributions to Indigenous Rights and in 2012 he was inducted into the inaugural Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll.
Uncle Alf was generous with his time and his knowledge to both his community and to non-Aboriginal people. He was always willing to share a story or a metaphor. A message that he gave often was that ‘culture is to people as water is to fish – we take our own culture for granted as it is part of our identity and part of our very being. Uncle Alf engaged many people in cultural training sessions to enable non-Aboriginal people to walk alongside his community creating better pathways and futures for Aboriginal children and young people. He was a natural teacher and a master of the verbal mosaic so the listener could draw knowledge from it - if they really took the time to hear.
Among Uncle Alf’s passions and joys were his family, his enjoyment of music and song, his band the Stray Blacks, the Fitzroy Stars Football Club and his endearing and adoring relationship with his wife Muriel Bamblett.
Our sympathies and thoughts are with Muriel and family at this time. He will be sadly missed by all at the Commission for Children and Young people.