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WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following may contain images, story and voices of deceased, by and about persons. Discretion advised.

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Tauto Sansbury

3 July 2020 // Tauto Sansbury


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Tauto Sansbury (2 July 1949 – 23 September 2019)  A proud Narungga man born on Point Pearce Mission on the Yorke Peninsula, with family links on the West Coast of South Australia and also the Adelaide Plains.

Tauto believed Aboriginal people would only ever be truly advanced through political engagement. As he would say… “If you’re not at the table, you’re the menu.” He had a vision for State and Federal Parliaments where the voices of First Nations peoples were heard and acted upon, that they would truly be recognised as custodians and Traditional Owners of this Land.

He was deeply involved in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, working closely with Elliott Johnston, QC. He led both the National and South Australian Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committees (AJACs) for more than 10 years, both monitoring the implementation of the recommendations and working to ensure that lasting change took place regarding Aboriginal incarceration at all levels.

He was consultant to the Social Inclusion Unit undertaking community consultations on the so-called ‘Gang of 49’ for the Breaking the Cycle Report. 

His commitment to his people saw him receive well-deserved recognition, both nationally and statewide, including an Australian Centenary Medal in 2003 from the Commonwealth: “In recognition of work as Director of the Aboriginal Justice Advocacy Committee and the National Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee.” He was also awarded Male Elder of the Year (SA NAIDOC) in 2014, the Aboriginal Lifetime Achievement Award (National NAIDOC) in 2015, the Dr Yunupingu Award in the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards 2015, Male Elder of the Year City of Port Adelaide and Enfield 2018 – just to name a few. He was also a finalist in the Australian of the Year Awards (SA) 2016.

Tauto’s passion for justice for Australia’s First Nations peoples saw him call the National Freedom Summit in Alice Springs in November 2014, where Aboriginal Elders, leaders and community members gathered to progress work on the vital issues facing the community. The National Freedom Movement was born out of the Summit.

Tauto was a courageous leader and advocate who fought relentlessly and fearlessly for social justice for Aboriginal people in all areas of life. He was a recognised leader and Elder; he spoke truth to power at times when others felt they were unable to. Tauto was a true voice for the voiceless. (source)


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