- Honour Roll
Her grandfather was the Aboriginal leader Barrkabili Dhulunyagan of the Ulupna clan of the Yorta Yorta tribe. Geraldine's involvement in Aboriginal affairs began when when she saw her three sisters (Margaret, Evelyn and May) taken from the family under the Aborigines Protection Act.
With her late husband, Selwyn, Geraldine was a leading activist in the fight for human rights on the Cummeragunja reserve, resulting in the well-documented 'Cummeragunja walk-off'. Geraldine and her husband had eight daughters Frances Mathyssen, Margaret Wirrpunda, Hyllus Maris, Leah Andres, Lois Peeler, Zeta Thomson, Laurel Robinson and Thelma Andrews, and one son, Rod Briggs, who followed their parents' example by having extensive and effective involvement in Aboriginal and human rights issues.
Geraldine was a founding member of the National Aboriginal and Island Women's Council, the Uniting Council of Aboriginal Women, the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and the Victorian Legal Service. She was a councillor on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Council and served on the advisory committee of the Victorian Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
She was involved in the protests and petitions to win the 'yes' vote in the 1966 referendum, permitting Aboriginal people to vote, and was there when the Aboriginal tent embassy opened outside Parliament House, Canberra.
Now living in an Aboriginal Elders' hostel in East Brunswick, Geraldine is a senior Elder of the Ulupna Clan, Yorta Yorta tribe, and a life member of the Victorian Aboriginal Advancement League and Worowa Aboriginal College. She was named Aboriginal of the Year in 1992 and awarded the Order of Australia in 1991.
Reviewed 25 May 2022