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Aunty Frances Mathyssen-Briggs AM

Aunty Frances Mathyssen-Briggs has a lifelong commitment to family, welfare, health, land rights and culture.

Honour Roll

Aunty Frances Mathyssen-Briggs has been actively involved in building community relationships relevant to Aboriginal issues. She marched for women in equality, land rights and Aboriginal rallies, always with her children close by.

She was a member of the committees which co-founded the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, Aboriginal Child Care Agency, and the National Council for Aboriginal and Islander women. Frances was a co-founder of the first Statewide Aboriginal Welfare Committee, and a co-founder of the Rumbalara Aboriginal co-operative and medical service that serves the largest Aboriginal population outside of Melbourne.

In the early days she ran the medical service from her home. The founding committee lobbied the state government for the return of the Rumbulara housing settlement (Mooroopna) for community use. After four years they were eventually successful in the return of the land.

Frances has been instrumental in the development of links with the Goulburn Valley Hospital and the Aboriginal community. This has culminated in a local agreement between the hospital and the co-operative, the first of its kind in Australia. Frances has worked on developing community relations through active participation with shire, police housing and government committees or working groups.

She has held a number of key positions in Aboriginal community affairs. Frances has served as a founding Director of the Aboriginal Keeping Place in Shepparton, the Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative and Chairperson of the Yorta Yorta Advancement Group Incorporated and Worawa Aboriginal College. She has been a guest speaker at a number of forums in relation to welfare, women, health, land and culture. At age 66, Frances was elected as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Regional Councillor (1996-99).

She is currently Chairperson of the Goulburn Valley Aboriginal Elders Committee and is a member of the Goulburn Valley Hospital Koori Committee in Shepparton, and the Goulburn Valley Advisory Committee to the Department of Human Services in Woodonga. She is also Deputy Chairperson Koori Women Mean Business Incorporated, and on the management committee Worawa Aboriginal College. A member of the Yorta Yorta Clans Elders Committee for the last eight years, she has been involved in the Yorta Yorta land claim.

Frances is mother to ten children, grandmother to twenty and great grandmother to five.