13 July 2020 // Sol Bellear
Solomon "Sol" David Bellear AM (1950/1951 – 29 November 2017) a Bundjalung man from Mullumbimby in New South Wales was one of nine children.
His activism began as a teenager when he moved to Redfern shortly after the 1967 referendum. In the 1960s, Mr Bellear noticed Australians had begun protesting against racial inequalities overseas, but little attention had been paid to injustices at home.
In 1970 Bellear was part of a delegation that intended to speak to the United Nations General Assembly on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues. The trip involved attending the "Congress of the African People" in Atlanta and New York, where he stayed for 6months working alongside members of the Black Panther Party.
His achievements were considerable and straddled the worlds of health, land rights, politics, the law and sport. He was the one of the founding members of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) and the Aboriginal Housing Company, was inaugural chair of the Aboriginal Legal Service when it founded in the 1970s and Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.
Later he would serve as a director and patron of the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence.
In 1990 Bellear became a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), becoming elected as one of 20 councillors for the Sydney region. He was subsequently elected a commissioner for the NSW Metropolitan Zone. He served as deputy chair before stepping down in 1994.
Sol was a passionate advocate for the Koori Knockout, missing only 10 carnivals. He played rugby league for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Redfern All Blacks in his younger year and became a director of the South Sydney Football Club between 2002 and 2006, and was a mentor for the Rabbitohs’ Indigenous players and staff until the day he died.
"In our fight for land rights in the 1970s and 1980s, we dodged bullets, we got beat up and locked up. But we kept turning up and we won the day. " - Sol Bellear