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The National Native Title Council pays tribute to extraordinary Yawuru Elder and leader Senator Patrick Dodson from Broome, Western Australia who yesterday announced his retirement from the Federal Parliament as a member of the Australian Labor Party and Senator for WA.

A man who dedicated his life’s work to improving the lives of First Nations peoples with great strength, resilience and determination, Senator Dodson is well known as the “Father of Reconciliation” which he spent many years advancing while serving on the Council of Aboriginal Reconciliation in the 1990’s.

As inaugural chairperson of the Yawuru PBC, executive Chairperson of Nyamba Buru Yawuru, and director of both the Kimberley and Central Land Councils, Senator Dodson has long been a staunch champion for the rights of native title holders across Australia.

Senator Dodson was a key member of the Indigenous leader’s group that negotiated the original Native Title Bill in 1993, when the Keating Government sought to introduce legislation in response to the Mabo decision.

Prior to introducing the legislation, and over the course of a year the government undertook extensive consultation, holding discussions with First Nations’ leaders and organisations, State and Territory governments and the mining and pastoral industries to inform the drafting of the bill.

The Indigenous leader’s group met with strong opposition during the negotiation process for the proposed legislation, particularly from the mining and pastoral industries, which drew fierce and intense debate and garnered extensive media attention.

At the end of that debate, and through the efforts of Senator Dodson and others, the Native Title Act was introduced in 1993, and stands today as a document that upholds the rights of native title holders and provides a framework for economic opportunity for First Nations communities across Australia.

In his quest for First Nations justice Senator Dodson will always be celebrated for his activism and his exemplary leadership style based on the principles of mutual respect, understanding and open dialogue.

The National Native Title Council would like to thank Senator Dodson for his tireless advocacy and leadership, congratulating him on his significant achievements for First Nations communities across Australia. With the greatest respect we wish Senator Dodson a long life of good health in his retirement.

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