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Late Aboriginal rights hero Alf 'Pop' Neal honoured

Giovanni Torre -

Lifelong advocate for the rights of Indigenous people, Alf 'Pop' Neal OAM, will be laid to rest today, Tuesday June 20.

The Uluru Dialogue issued a statement honouring Mr Neal, one of the original 1967 campaigners and champion of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, who hailed from Yarrabah in Far North Queensland.

The beloved Elder and Community leader passed away in late May, aged 100 years.

Uluru Dialogue co-chair, Cobble Cobble woman Professor Megan Davis, acknowledged Mr Neal's lifelong dedication to the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

"Pop Neal never stopped fighting for First Nations rights. He leaves behind a powerful legacy," she said.

"More than 50 years ago, he and other Community stalwarts were crucial to the success of the 1967 Referendum. And in the six years since the Uluru Statement was issued to the Australian people, he actively supported the Uluru Dialogue in our work to bring about meaningful and substantive reform, including through a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament."

Professor Davis said Uluru Dialogue and Youth Dialogue members were "honoured to sit with Pop Neal at the Knowledge Tree at Yarrabah outside Cairns on many occasions as he generously shared his deep wisdom".

"This was the same place where he would gather with fellow campaigners to strategise around the 1967 Referendum – which achieved the biggest 'Yes' vote in Australian referendum history," she said.

"When the Uluru Statement was first issued, we spoke of the urgency of the reforms it seeks. Since then, we have lost many of our old people, our leaders, our heroes. We mourn all of them – and now Pop Neal – deeply. Their courage and tenacity will fuel our efforts to secure a successful referendum and should inspire all Australians."

Professor Davis said the Uluru Dialogue sends its "love, respect and condolences to Pop Neal's family and people at Yarrabah and elsewhere".

"We thank them for generously hosting us over the past six years when we visited Yarrabah many times. Yarrabah is where we issued the Yarrabah Affirmation in 2022."

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