30.11.17 VALE SOL BELLEAR AM – LEGEND OF LAND RIGHTS, CIVIL RIGHTS AND RUGBY LEAGUE

VALE SOL BELLEAR AM – LEGEND OF LAND RIGHTS, CIVIL RIGHTS AND RUGBY LEAGUE

An Aboriginal man who grew up on the Far North Coast of New South Wales and a descendant of the reprehensible slave trade with connections to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Sol Bellear AM was a true activist and justice warrior for First Nations People.

Drawing inspiration from international black civil rights movements in North America, South Africa, and the United States, Sol brought the same spirit of civil rights activism to Australia, fighting for equal rights for First Nations Australians.

A legend in the land rights movement; Sol marched for Land Rights and was a central figure in the tent embassy movement. In 1977, Sol was at the Black Theatre in Redfern when the NSW Aboriginal Land Council was first formed.  He served as senior strategist for the NSWALC right up to his passing.

At a time when First Nations People were denied the same basic civil services such as access to the mainstream legal and medical system, Sol worked to ensure First Nations People had their own Aboriginal controlled services to fill the gap.

In the early 1970’s Sol Bellear was the inaugural Chair of the Aboriginal Legal Service, establishing the foundations of the organisation. Sol was a champion of rehabilitate approaches to the justice system and played a key role in Justice Reinvestment in NSW.

In 1975, Sol became a board member of Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, New South Wales where he later was elected as Chairman, a role he served in until his passing.

In 1990, Sol became a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

Sol was one of the foundation members of the Council for Aboriginal reconciliation in the early 1990s where his advice and insight helped drive understanding and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian’s.

But not only was Sol a legend in land rights and Indigenous governance, but a legend on the footy field. Many will remember Sol for his passionate contribution to Rugby League, bringing his activism to the game. As one of the founders of the Koori Knockout, Sol represented the Redfern All Blacks at the First Koori Knockout in 1971 and was a permanent fixture in the game ever since.

His talent as a player saw him graded for the South Sydney Rabbitohs. He later served as Director for the club.

Sol was a manager and mentor to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rugby league players representing the Indigenous All Stars.

Sol’s service to First Nations Australians was recognised in 1999, when Sol became a member of the Order of Australia (AM).

His passing comes unexpectedly, the Labor First Nations Caucus Committee send our deepest condolences to the family and all who knew Sol.

Sol Bellear AM will be remembered for his uncompromising drive for justice and all he achieved for First Nations People in Australia and internationally.


THURSDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2017

 

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