2nd Mar 2015

Congress pays tribute to Kwementyaye Tilmouth

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress offers its deepest condolences and sympathies to the family of Kwementyaye Tilmouth, and pays homage to his significant contributions to the advancement of Aboriginal people throughout Australia.

Kwementyaye Tilmouth was one of the Stolen Generations and has commented on the life-long impact of not knowing the love of his mother who died prior to him being re-united with his father. In spite of this, he had a fearless gusto for life and, an often wicked sense of humour that was put to good use in his political pursuits including his infamous one liners.

“Despite his frequent use of humour, Kwementyaye Tilmouth was deadly serious in his unwavering efforts to improve the lives of Aboriginal people and enhance our fight against inequality in all its forms,” said Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee.

“In the health area he was one of the Aboriginal leaders present in the key meeting in 1994 that led to the decision to transfer responsibility for the administration of Aboriginal health back to the Commonwealth health department. This decision led to an unprecedented injection of funds and expertise into Aboriginal primary health care.

“He was an important advocate for Aboriginal land and economic rights, particularly in his role as a former head of the Central Land Council in Central Australia,” said Ms Ah Chee.

Kwementyaye also invested many years fighting for improved access to education for Aboriginal students especially trying to ensure an equitable distribution of funding for remote schools.

“If you want to wipe out an indigenous group, the first thing you do is remove the education,” said Kwementyaye in 2007.

He was also a real believer that for people to have dignity and good health they had to have a decent job. His commitment to community development was all about creating employment for people all over the NT.

He was part of the early meetings that established Congress and was also one of our earliest employees who along with other Aboriginal people went on to become formidable leaders and heads of other organisations. He knew from his own experience that getting your first job was a springboard for subsequent development.

Our thoughts are with his wife Kathy, daughters Shaneen, Cathryn and Amanda, granddaughters Elaine and Yvette, and his brother William, the current Congress Chairman and family.