The family of Lyall Munro Snr would like to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the large number of condolences received from Aboriginal communities, organisations and members of the broader public.
Throughout his life Lyall senior worked tirelessly to bring about effective change for Aboriginal people and the assertion of self-determination, acting at all times in the interests of his people.
Lyall senior started his working life as a junior staff member on the NSW railway at Currabubula, transferring to Moree to continue work as a relief assistant station master. He was an employed staff member of the Moree District Hospital and worked closely with the McMaster Ward which was a segregated section of the hospital reserved for Aboriginal people only. In his early years he also worked on the land as an itinerant worker in the farming industry, ring barking, in shearing sheds as a hut keeper throughout northern NSW and with the North West County Council as an electrical linesman.
Lyall was a prominent leader on the Moree Aboriginal Advancement Committee whilst a resident on the Moree Aboriginal Mission. He was elected to the NSW Aboriginal Advisory Council in 1969 that directly advised the NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs following the abolishment of the NSW Aboriginal Welfare Board. The council proposed the first Aboriginal Police Liaison Unit under NSW Police Commissioner John Avery.
Lyall was involved in the Freedom Rides when they drove into Moree in 1965 increasing awareness to urban Australians about racial segregation in rural towns. He was a member of the NSW Aboriginal Lands Trust and National Aboriginal Consultative Committee (NACC). With a change of Federal Government the NACC was reconstituted to the National Aboriginal Conference (NAC) - a body that had United Nations status. Lyall was elected as Deputy Chair of the NAC and in 1979 accepted the task of Treaty negotiations with the Fraser-led Federal Liberal Coalition Government.
Lyall later served as chair of the National Aboriginal Conference and was an executive member of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. He was instrumental in Australia hosting the Third General Assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples in Canberra in 1981. In 1983 as Chair of National Aboriginal Conference he supported and encouraged an NAC delegation to five African nations to gather support for the treaty negotiation process. The National Aboriginal Conference was a major contributor in the development of the draft Declaration of the Rights of the Worlds Indigenous Peoples where they contributed to the development of the first 19 principals in Panama City in 1984. He was involved in discussions with Jose Ramos Horta seeking independence of East Timor. On two occasions he met with Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and with his support organised a meeting of the full cabinet and the board of the NAC.
In association with the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service Ltd he was very vocal against James Hardie Company in Baryulgil Aboriginal Mission on the north coast of NSW and the effects of asbestos mining in the community. He actively contributed to the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody and was a long-serving chair of the Kamilaroi Regional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). All these boards were democratically elected bodies.
Lyall senior was also a prominent member of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Movement, an inaugural board member of the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) and AHO Regional Aboriginal Housing Committee.
Lyall was a director of the Moree District Hospital for 10 years and held positions in numerous community organisations including Moree Aboriginal Sobriety House (MASH), Moree Local Aboriginal Land Council and community Housing organisations.
Lyall was involved in the establishment of the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service Limited, Australian Legal Aid Commission which was modelled on the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service structure of free legal representation - an Australian first, the Pius X Aboriginal Corporation (Moree), Aboriginal Legal Service Moree, Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES), Aboriginal Homecare (Moree).
Lyall was involved in the naming of the Kamilaroi Highway in North West NSW which is the first highway to be named after an Aboriginal nation in NSW.
Lyall Munro was a direct descendant of the victims and survivors of the Myall Creek Massacre near Bingara, NSW. Later in retired life he worked tirelessly for the recognition and creation of a memorial to honour the Myall Creek Massacre, serving as co-chair of the Friends of Myall Creek committee since its inception and the creation of the memorial in 2000. He worked to have the Myall Creek Massacre and memorial site listed on the NSW State Heritage Register and National Heritage List.
Lyall was a life member of the Moree Boomerangs Rugby League Football Club, Miyay Birray Youth Service Inc, and the Friends of Myall Creek Committee.
He was one of the silent achievers that was recognised in 2002 as a joint recipient of the National NAIDOC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Elders of the Year Award and the NSW Law and Justice Foundation in 2013 for his work with the Myall Creek Memorial and fight to stop the development of Taylor Oval, Moree an iconic local sports ground, to protect the immense historical and cultural value of the site.
He continued to advise and consult with people on issues relating to Aboriginal affairs locally and more broadly and mentored many Aboriginal leaders and politicians. He was not adverse to confrontation on political and social justice issues relating to Aboriginal people. He passed peacefully surrounded by members of his large family and will be deeply missed by the Komeroi/ Gomeroi nation, by the wider Aboriginal community throughout Australia and by all Australians who have shared in the cause of justice and equality.
Residents who want to watch the State funeral online can do so here.