The passing of Roberta Sykes

16 November, 2010

The passing of Roberta Sykes

A statement from Bev Manton, Chairwoman of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC)

November 16, 2010

The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council would like to express its condolences to the family of Doctor Roberta Sykes, who passed away on the weekend.

Dr Sykes was not only a renowned author and poet, but also a prominent and tireless campaigner for Aboriginal rights.

She was the first executive secretary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972 and also worked as an adviser in Aboriginal health and education.

Dr Sykes became the first black Australian to attend Harvard University in the 1980s, and went on to win awards for her series of autobiographies which in part charted her involvement with the protest movement.  In 1994, she was awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal.

Dr Sykes will be sorely missed by those who knew her and her passing is a sad day for the Aboriginal rights movement.

Bev Manton
NSWALC Chairwoman


We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.