In honour of Gigari George

Posted 2020-10-21

NAILSMA Statement - In honour of Gigari George

The North Australian Indigenous Land & Sea Management Alliance Ltd (NAILSMA) Board and staff are deeply saddened to advise that our Chairperson, colleague, and friend, Melissa-Leigh George passed away peacefully Monday 12th October, surrounded by her loved ones.

The family respectfully ask that their beloved be referred to as Gigari George (Black Cockatoo).

Gigari, a proud Wulgurukaba Saltwater woman, has been a long-time supporter and friend of NAILSMA and has been integral to the success of the organisation. Gigari served as NAILSMA’s Chief Executive Officer from 2014 – 2018, served as a board member from 2018 – 2019 and then Chairperson of the Board from 2019 – 2020. During that time, she was responsible for fundamental achievements leading to the improvement of Indigenous livelihoods across north Australia.

Gigari’s contribution to the Indigenous land and sea management sector has been outstanding, serving as Chair of the Commonwealth Indigenous Advisory Committee (Environment) and on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority board for over 10 years. Gigari has been an integral part of shaping the dialogue around the understanding that Indigenous people play a leading role in land and sea management, science and research locally, nationally and internationally.

Her extensive contribution and impact across the sector, has meant many of her achievements have been unrecognised. Those of us lucky enough to be part of her journey will not forget her drive, strength, and passion she had for her People and her Country.

In a family Statement, Gigari’s son, Duane Fraser stated, “Gigari was a remarkable woman who lived her life with purpose. A warrior woman - wife, mother, daughter, friend and leader. She held above all else a deep love for Country, Culture and its Peoples. A Saltwater Woman - passionate and driven.”

NAILSMA Board Member and friend Peter Yu said, “Gigari was a bright shining example. She was more committed to achieving better outcomes for her People than seeking recognition or gratitude”

“Gigari has been a great mentor of mine, it has been a privilege and honour to work with and for her. She had an unrivalled ability to instil confidence in others. She was fierce yet one of the kindest people I have known” said Ricky Archer, NAILSMA CEO.

NAILSMA is committed to continuing Gigari’s legacy in Indigenous land and sea management to the high standard she has instilled in the organisation. NAILSMA Board and staff wish to acknowledge her immense contribution to the organisation, to her People and to her Country, Gigari will be greatly missed.