Statement on the passing of Yunupingu AM

Apr 5, 2023

News of the passing of political warrior Yunupingu AM has left Torres Strait Traditional Owners grieving.

The Gur A Baradharaw Kod Sea and Land Council Torres Strait Islander Corporation (GBK) paid tribute to the Gumatj clan leader, acknowledging his life-long dedication to First Nations land rights.

Yunupingu was such a powerful activist who understood the importance of sovereignty and autonomy.

He advocated for economic independence, business development, and self- determination for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

His commitment to Yolŋu was unparalleled, and his heart was pure. He spoke for mob when they were voiceless and in turn, inspired others like me to champion our land and sea rights – regardless of the barriers faced.

As a fierce leader, he asserted the Yolŋu people’s ownership of their lands, ensuring that the Australia Parliament, large corporations, and offshore interests respected culture and lore.

His lifetime’s worth of achievements is astounding proof that he kept his people and communities at the forefront of everything he did.

His legacy was one of truth-telling and as we press upon a momentous political change in the coming months, Yunupingu’s story will continue to influence Australia’s history.

On behalf of the Board and staff of GBK, I wish to express my deepest condolences to Yunupingu’s family and the Yolŋu people. I humbly respect the Yolŋu processes of Sorry Business during this time of grief.

Ned David – Chair, Gur A Baradharaw Kod Sea and Land Council