Aunt Isabel Coe has died, aged 61

By Ray Jackson


it is with great shock and sadness that i inform of the death of a warrior, a leader and mentor and educator to all people, regardless of race or skin colour, aunt isobel coe.

details are not known to me except for the brief message below. 

i will provide  details when known.

to the coe and craigie families, to her very many friends and to her wiradjuri community we offer our sincerest sympathies to their loss but also the dreadful loss to the aboriginal movement.


we know she walks her lands in peace.



ray jackson
indigenous social justice association
(m) 0450 651 063
(p)  02 9318 0947
address  1303/200 pitt street waterloo 2017

we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people.

sovereignty  treaty  social justice  



VALE Isabel Coe: 1951 - 2012

Published 11 November 2012
Isabel Coe is an elder of the Wiradjuri tribe, one of the biggest Aboriginal tribes in New South Wales. Isabel is best known for her relentless and determined struggle at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, which has been standing strong since 1972. On 11 November 2012, we are deeply saddened at the loss of Isabel Coe, and we extend our deepest condolences to the Coe and Craigie families.
Rest in Peace Aunty Isabel.
Warning: clicking on the link in this story will show pictures of Indigenous persons now deceased
ray jackson
indigenous social justice association
(m) 0450 651 063
(p)  02 9318 0947
address  1303/200 pitt street waterloo 2017
we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people.
sovereignty  treaty  social justice


She was a true warrior, one that will be honoured very much. The Tent Embassy (Aboriginal sovereignty) mourns another. In UNity

I too want to pass on my condolences to Aunty Isobelle and the Coe and Wright family. Was such a great fighter for our people. Her great campaigns will be remembered in our history. May her soul rest in peace.
Graham Mooney

When the histories of the different nations are written, Aunt will be remembered as one of the greatest. Love, courage and a whole heap of attributes that most of us can only dream about.
David Allen


Michael Anderson, co-founder of the emabssy, was quoted in this news item:

"Her passion and dedication will be remembered.....Isabel was our very early young black woman liberationist.....Isabel was a very determined young lady....I've never found or seen another woman as determined and as committed as she was as to fighting for the cause of her people."

Mr Anderson says she first gained notoriety in the 1970s by helping to establish the Redfern Aboriginal Children's Service.

He described her commitment and drive as "unparalleled".

"She was also a lady with a very sharp tongue and very honest very forthright and was not a lady who held back on anything and I think that's reflected in the things she did."

Isabel Coe was a remarkable woman. Her courage and tenacity never weakened. She was a humble woman who fought for all Indigenous people. While she was a true firebrand, never taking a backward step, she was at heart a gentle and generous person. Her legacy is simple. Continue the fight. Continue in Solidarity

For Isabel, with my love and the love of my five children

Tony Birch


Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Aboriginal tent embassy where Coe dedicated much of her time.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council has expressed its deepest sympathies to the Coe family, following the passing of prominent Aboriginal activist Isabel Coe over the weekend.

Aunty Isabel was born in Cowra. A stalwart of the Aboriginal rights struggle, and a leading figure in the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, she was also the lead litigant in Isabel Coe v the Commonwealth, an unsuccessful but important legal challenge which sought to assert the sovereignty of the Wiradjuri nation.

Aunty Isabel gained international prominence as a prominent Aboriginal activist in the lead-up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Chairperson of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Stephen Ryan said the Aboriginal nations of Australia owed a great debt to Aunty Isabel.

“Many of us fight for Aboriginal rights in boardrooms, or in our workplaces. Isabel Coe chose to fight for our rights at the community level. She led the battle on our streets for many years, and even as her health declined she remained active.

“An enduring memory for anyone whose spent time around the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, or an important protest where strong Aboriginal leadership is required, will be of Aunty Isabel, still fighting for her people, despite being confined to a wheelchair.

“She was on the frontline of protests and it gave her an authenticity. It’s because of that authenticity, and her determination to fight with the people and for the people, that Aunty Isabel won so much respect not just in NSW, but around the nation.

“Much of her struggle was with the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Her goal was to highlight the injustices suffered by our people on the world stage. On that front, she was very effective.

“While our fight for Aboriginal equality goes on, younger Aboriginal people need to remember that the relative advantage they enjoy today is because of the fight in people like Isabel Coe.

“Aboriginal Australia was greatly enriched by Aunty Isabel’s efforts. She will be deeply missed.”

[This article is republished from Tracker Magazine.]