THE death of Lew Griffiths, who devoted most of his working life to improving the lives of the first Australians on Cape York, should inspire others to realise his dream, according to Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson.
Mr Pearson, who will pay tribute to Mr Griffiths at a memorial service in Canberra on Saturday, has described him as ”a patriot who felt his nation fell short of its promise”.
”The Australia of which this man dreamed was one in which his sons could feel at peace with their Aboriginal brothers and sisters,” Mr Pearson said in a eulogy at Mr Griffiths’ funeral earlier this month. ”He looked forward with hope so our children could look back with pride.”
A cameraman and producer of documentaries, Mr Griffiths, 55, worked closely with Mr Pearson in his campaign against passive welfare after arriving on the Cape in 1990.
”In one sense this man was my greatest friend, but I was mostly undeserving in my friendship with him,” Mr Pearson said.
‘In another sense this man was my brother. Perhaps more brother than friend for one takes one’s brothers for granted: and so it was with me and this man. But we shared an intimacy the like of which most brothers do not.”
Mr Griffiths also introduced scores of journalists, including this reporter, to the remote communities and extraordinary characters of Cape York.
”This man and I shared a dream for a better future for the original Australians. It was a dream we strived to bring to pass,” Mr Pearson said.
”We had many friends – most from older generations of Cape York men and women – compatriots whose dreams we carried. From the time we started, we began to lose our friends.”
Mr Pearson has appealed to others to renew the commitment to enabling indigenous Australians to realise their potential.
Mr Griffiths is survived by his wife Louise and three sons.