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Vale Michele Harris OAM

 A Celebration of the Life
of  'concerned Australians'
who died on 1st June 2015 in Sydney, NSW

You are invited to share in this Celebration
Friday, 31st July 2015 at 11 am
Wesley Uniting Church
148 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
(Parking in Lonsdale St or beside the church)

Refreshments will be provided following the Celebration
RSVP by 22 July 2015 to Pia:
or 0419 541 733




Pia at will also ensure your message or condolences  will be passed on.  These may also be published on varying online news or websites. Please let us know if you would prefer  your message to  be private  and add your organisation if appropriate.




Vale Michele Harris: A Tireless Campaigner Against The NT Intervention, Michael Brull - 3 June 2015



For a message from Djiniyini Gondarra and on behalf of the Yolngu Nations Assembly and the people of Arnhem Land: please click here

Thank you message for Michele. It is spoken by Dhulumburrk Gaykamaŋu, the male Co-convenor for Yolngu Nations Assembly: please click here


10 June 2015


Michele knew the Territory well and was an absolutely resolute fighter for justice. It was a privilege to have known her and to have worked with her a little in connection with opposing the appalling policies applied to Northern Territory Aboriginal communities by both sides of politics.
Her death is very sad.
Greg Marks, Canberra

Condolences from Murri Ministry Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Brisbane. Michele's actions kept us focussed on the ongoing issue of the Intervention. She stretched us further to reclaiming the concept of Treaty. Michele and company increased the intensity of our fire and led to our acting in solidarity with the group she inspired.
Kay McPadden rsj


9 June 2015


Please accept my deepest sympathy. Michele will continue to be a powerful inspiration for all who struggle for social justice and social change.
John Falzon, CEO St Vincent's de Paul National Council of Australia

I am deeply saddened by the passing of Michele Harris. Michele has been a great inspiration and support to me in my role as the Convener of the Committee on Racial Equality. CORE is a Canberra-based group of Quakers and members of the wider community committed to supporting racial justice in Australia.  
I would like to express my deepest sympathy to Michele’s family.
Gedda Fortey

8 June 2015

My personal appreciation for the leadership Michele Harris displayed in support of the Aboriginal people subjected to the NT Intervention by both Federal Governments including  her great networking skills with all of us. Sympathy and appreciation to Ed  and her immediate family and also to her close colleagues Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Djiniyini Gondarra, Alastair Nicholson, key people in 'concerned Australians' and so many others.
Strategies are often difficult to find even when knowledge is present. Michele did her utmost to work at both in accompaniment with the People: publishing books, initiating meetings, writing submissions, making phone calls and in indefatigable emails.  The Josephite SA Reconciliation Circle appreciated this guidance in our own long-term efforts against the NT Intervention in particular.
Michele completed her Journey. Enormous Perseverance.
Michele Madigan and also for the Josephite SA Reconciliation Circle

I am so sorry to hear of Michele's death, so many things one could say about her, tireless and passionate come to mind, even when quite ill, she would ring saying at the end of the conversation, oh and by the way I am in hospital at the moment so don't ring me back. Her determination to make a difference, particularly in the stand against the NTER made me think she would go on battling forever. What a wonderful contribution she made. Australia could do with more concerned citizens like Michele.
Condolences and regards to her family.
Sue Gilbey, Adelaide South Australia

I am so terribly sad to learn of the passing of this extraordinary and inspiring hero of the fight against discrimination and injustice - earlier in support of refugees to Australia and more recent years in her valiant battle against the Northern Territory Intervention under her banner of 'concerned Australians'. 
May the spirit and thrust of her work live on and overcome all obstacles encountered.  Commiserations to her family, friends, supporters and admirers.
Dierk von Behrens, ACT Greens Representative, Australian Greens Global Issues Working Group.

I was impressed with the way Michele facilitated the voices of others.
She would draw out grassroots Aboriginal voices.
Networking with Aboriginal people and Aboriginal communities.
Michele understood that the Northern Territory Intervention was, and is, racially discriminatory.
She learned this through her contact with Aboriginal people.
Her action research and publications with 'concerned Australians' made Aboriginal voices accessible to ordinary Australians
who could read first hand accounts of what was happening with the NT Intervention.
I had contact with Michele in my role as editor of WGAR News, from the time the Intervention broke in 2007.
I was pleased to highlight the writings of 'concerned Australians', as they were ground-breaking and significant.
Michele will be fondly remembered, and her work will live on.
WGAR News Editor


7 June 2015

Lateral Love Australia have lost another Great. Condolences to family. 
Brian Butler, Co-Founder & Director @ Lateral Love Australia

The Peace Justice and Social Issues group of the Sisters of St Joseph Victoria /Tasmania express our heartfelt appreciation of what Michele and ‘concerned Australians’ have contributed to this immense and important task of righting the wrongs in Australia's history and enabling  voices of First Peoples to be heard.
Michele has taken a vital lead in what must become a major shift in our nation's thinking. She gave her great talents to this; she gave her life for justice. She will be sorely missed.
Joan Hamilton, The Peace Justice and Social Issues group of the Sisters of St Joseph Victoria /Tasmania 

6 June 2015


Thanks so much for both your phone call and this email about Michele's passing.This is such sad news. What a champion she was!! Her work, which inspired 'concerned Australians', has been so very important since the NT Intervention. She is going to be very sorely missed but I hope 'concerned Australians' will gather strength again and continue Michele's work. There remains so much more to be done to get Indigenous voices from the North in particular heard in SE Australia.  Michele did a wonderful job of making that happen.
Please pass on my very sincere condolences to Michele's family and friends.
She was a passionate and determined woman, who despite her ill health pressed on and achieved a great deal.
Warmest wishes to you all
Janet Hunt, ANU, Canberra


5 June 2015

I have read with gratitude, and much sad regret at Michele’s passing, the condolences from so many recognising Michele’s work.
I add my own thoughts.
Michele was a person of quiet voice but great fortitude, inner strength, dedication and commitment to recognition of the equal place in Australian society all Indigenous Australians should enjoy, and should be able to enjoy, without repressive government policies. Michele did not let the NT Intervention simply pass into history. She knew it’s pervasive impact on communities and peoples lives would be deep and lasting; so she set out to fight it and marshall public thinking to action and understanding. To the last she fought the good fight. 'concerned Australians' is her legacy. We must all be thankful that there are amongst us good people like Michele who are prepared to stand up for what is right and good in our society.
Kind regards,
Ian Viner, AO QC

I am saddened to hear of the death of Michele Harris of 'concerned Australians'. She was an amazing person whose many achievements included fighting the NT intervention at all levels including the UN. Her work for Indigenous people, particularly in the NT was inspired. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her and I feel honoured to have had the opportunity of working with her.
The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC 

It is indeed a sad passing and a loss of a strong voice.  My thoughts are with you all.
Dr Helen Szoke, CEO Oxfam, previous AHRC & VEOHRC

To Whom It May Concern,
Please find below my personal tribute to Michele Harris.
I wish to pass on my condolences to the friends and family of Michele Harris. I am deeply saddened to hear of Michele’s passing.
I met Michele during the beginnings of the campaign to oppose the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory legislation in 2012.
Her wisdom, insight and her strong relationships with Indigenous communities were of essential importance in the efforts undertaken to stop the legislation.
Her passion for Indigenous communities to be heard and to have full access to their rights, inspired many Australians, and inspired me.
Australia has lost a strong, committed and compassionate advocate.
I learned so much from you.
Vale Michele. Thank you.
Emily Mitchell, Legal and Policy Officer, Australian Lawyers Alliance

Her legacy will live on in all of us who have been lucky enough to have shared her life in some way.
Dr Gabrielle Russell-Mundine, Lecturer, National Centre for Cultural Competence, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services), THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

Michele will be sadly missed, as her knowledge, wisdom and insight and her willingness to share her knowledge will leave a gap, as will her work on behalf of her people.  Although I didn't know her personally, I relied on her knowledge and faithfulness in spreading information about her people.
Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband and family as they face the future without her.
with kind regards,
Rev. Kathleen Baldini, retired Uniting Church minister, member of the Social Justice committee of the Living Faith Church (combined Uniting Church & Church of Christ congregation) in Greensborough, who are active in Reconciliation, Asylum Seekers and the environment, and member of the Banyule Reconciliation group.

My sympathy ...on losing a wonderful friend and co-worker who focused on such a important issue. I too felt really sad to know that you have lost such a courageous and insightful woman, as the leader of 'concerned Australians'. She will be greatly missed.
Joan Kennedy, Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

A sad day for you and your organisation Georgina. My condolences. Ms Harris ...inspiring.
Michelle Purdy, Aboriginal VET Officer, TasTAFE


4 June 2015


Mary told me the very sad news yesterday by e-mail, and she has just called (clearly in great distress) to give me a fuller account. I had the privilege of working as a volunteer at Transact for four years in the late 1990s, and came to know Michele as an exemplary campaigner and leader. We left Canberra in 1998 but Michele being the person she was always kept in touch, despite her worsening illness. She sent me a beautiful letter of Easter greetings this year, full also of exasperation about the blindness, deafness too, of the government with respect to the needs and rights of the Aboriginal community; alas, I delayed responding until we had had our elections here, and wrote deploring the shock outcome that you will know about, but my e-mail came only about ten days ago, I fear too late for her to see it.
Would you very kindly pass on my condolences to Ed, who I know has been Michele’s wonderful support for all these years of suffering. I also want you to know, and Anne-Marie, Beth and Adam, and your families, the huge admiration I have always had for Michele, all the more for the tireless campaigning she continued to do, despite her ever-increasing infirmity, right up to the end in the cause of Aboriginal justice. I have before me two obituaries that I will treasure which Mary sent me, one by Michael Brull and especially the one by Lionel Bopage, which covers very fully her work at Transact as well. We appreciate the huge loss and grief you will all be feeling, and all the worrying matters that now have to be dealt with, and our thoughts will be with you all at the funeral on Tuesday and thereafter.
My wife Beth joins me in expressing our loving concern for you all,
Nick Scott

From Berlin I send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Michele. I never met her in person but we spoke often via mail and I became to know her as a wise and intensely committed woman who did everything to help the Berlin Aboriginal Solidarität Netzwerk and the German NGO Society for Threatened Peoples to raise attention for Aboriginal issues in Germany. She was especially supportive of an art installation about Yolngu people, that I am building with an artist friend and that will be three days on display in Berlin in June during the art festival 48 Stunden Neukölln. I am so sad that she won’t be able to see the result that will be filmed and sent to Australia. I will really miss Michele, her wisdom and her valuable feedback, but I will carry on her spirit to keep on raising awareness of Aboriginal issues in Germany.
Marion Caris, Berlin, Germany

I knew that Michele was not a well woman but did not realise she was close to death.  What an extraordinary woman she has been.  Her spirit will live on in the lives of so many.  You will miss her wisdom and experience at 'concerned Australians' but you and the other great people will carry on in her tradition with your own unique gifts.
Stancea Vichie mss    

Thank you for letting me know of Michele's passing. She  was a lovely caring, strong  woman, who always fought a good fight, she will be very much missed. Thoughts are with Ed and Family. Regards Shaz  WFFR
Sharon Partridge, WFFR

So sorry to hear of the passing of Michele Harris, it's going to be a huge loss to cA. I was over at Rec Vic yesterday and they were aware of her passing, too
John Baxter, WFFR & Rec Vic Council

I am so sorry to hear that Michele has passed away, very sad indeed. My thoughts are with you all.
Anthea Burns,  Brimbank Council, Community Planning and Engagement Officer, Community Planning & Development

I'm very sorry to hear the news of Michele's illness and death. She gave such strong leadership, made us all sit up and listen.
Warm regards and condolences to all at cA.
Janet Bachsinar, Maroondah Reconcilation

Aunty Ellie Gilbert  wishes to pass on her sorrow to the family and cA and  offered, her husband’s, Kevin Gilbert’s - Epitaph for use at the funeral should the family desire to use it.
Weep not for me for Death is
but the vehicle that unites my soul
with the Creative Essence, God.
My spiritual Being, my love, is
still with you, wherever you are
until forever.
You will find me in quiet moments
in the trees, amidst the rocks,
the clouds and beams of sunshine
indeed, everywhere for I, too, am
a part of the total essence of
creation that radiates everywhere
about you eternally.
Life after all is just a
passing phase
Kevin Gilbert’s - Epitaph
Auntie Ellie Gilbert, WGAR

I read with sadness about the passing of yet another champion.  The loss of Michele will be forever missed. Please pass on my deepest condolences to her family, thank you for being her good friend and comrade,
Kindest Regards
Monica Morgan

Condolences to the family, colleagues and the First Peoples to whom Michele was so dear. In memory of Michele’s legacy, seen in her tireless work for a more just, peaceful and compassionate Australia. I acknowledge her work with individual bishops and agencies of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference over many years. May she rest in peace, in the presence of God, cradled in love.
John Ferguson, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC)

Thank you for the info about Michele’s death. She has been an extraordinary person with great determination to advance aboriginal affairs and people. God will be delighted to welcome her into his home, I am sure. But as you say, she is a loss to us and our work.
I will offer my mass for her tomorrow.
Best wishes,
Bruce Duncan, YTU & SPC

Thank you for telling me about the passing of Michele Harris. What a wonderful woman and supporter of Aboriginal people and others. May she rest in peace
Claude Mostowik Msc

What a loss, a beautiful, very committed woman. I will let our Sisters in Sydney know, they may be able to go to the funeral.
Heather Weedon FMM

Sad news. A great woman. Profoundly committed to respecting and getting justice for First
Dean Whittaker

The passing of a strong, passionate woman who will be much missed.
Theo Mackaay

So sorry to hear about the passing of this graciously tenacious advocate for justice and truth, especially for the First Peoples. An inspiration to many of us.
Alistair Macrae

Amen to that. She's with the communion of saints now.
Peter Lewis

As everyone has said she was an amazing woman and I feel her legacy will continue inspiring and challenging us in the fight for justice.
Tess Keam

Vale indeed!  She will be so incredibly missed!
Jill Cooper-Ruzbacky

Oh, no  (sad news indeed. Vale Michele)
Megan Graham, UCA previous writer


3 June 2015

This is terribly sad news. Michele was a true comrade of all peoples fighting for justice.
Please pass my solidarity to family...  
John Pilger

Heartfelt message to all at cA and to family. “Incredibly sad news, Michele did so much for A&TSI peoples. 
Emily Chauvel, Reconciliation Victoria

Very sad news…, please pass our deepest sympathy.
Deb Chapman, acting Statewide Reconcilaiton Victoria Coordinator

Sad news indeed. My thoughts are with you are all the other wonderful ‘concerned Australians’. 
Rosemary Rule, Co-Chair, Port Phillip Citizens for Reconciliation

That is sad news.  Michele has clearly had a huge commitment and done remarkable work. Thank you … Regards John
John Burke, One Fire Rec Group Geelong

MY deepest Sympathy ... May God help you in this time of great grief
Warm Regards , Diana
Diana Warrell, Nillumbik Reconciliation, Victoria

Vale Michele Harris OAM.
Barbara Oehring, Towards Reconciliation at Knox (TR@K)


2 June 2015


Sad News. We received this notice from 'concerned Australians'
Michele Harris OAM passed away in her sleep peacefully on the evening of June 1st , following a long illness, surrounded by family. She was such a wonderfully wise and good leader and will be very sadly missed
For Anita, Tara and Rosie, Michele has been an invaluable help and support to us with her willingly shared contacts, knowledge and wisdom, during the two years we worked on the anthology. Although sadly she never saw the book, she is very much present in it, a final tribute to a life devoted to the Indigenous cause and more recently, opposition to the Intervention.
We express our deepest sympathy to her family.
Anita Heiss, Tara, Rosie Scott


We of ‘concerned Australians’ were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Michele Harris OAM in Sydney at 9.45 pm on Monday 1st June 2015. Michele was an extraordinary person who had a deep love and compassion for all people. Wherever there was a need she brought her great intellect, insights and organising abilities to bear, which included those facing trauma both here and abroad. She especially had a deep, abiding relationship and constant dialogue with the First Peoples of this country, especially in the Northern Territory, and sought at all times to work with them in overcoming the continuing disempowerment they have suffered from governments over the years.
We will miss her wisdom and constant strength: a woman in mission to her last breath. There is now a challenge to continue the work that she has fostered. Our thoughts are with Ed, her husband, and family as they face the future.
In deep sorrow
Georgina Gartland, on behalf of 'concerned Australians'


Funeral Notice:

Yolngu Nations Assembly

Michele Harris OAM 5/12/39 - 1/6/15
Yolngu Nations Assembly acknowledges Michele Harris' immeasurable advocacy support and encouragement from our founding assembly in 2011 to the day she passed away on Monday the 1st of June. Her funeral service will be held in Sydney at 11.30am on Tuesday the 9th of June, at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Mosman.


Sacred Heart Catholic Church Mosman
23 Cardinal Street
Mosman NSW 2088