On behalf of the people of Cape York, we pay tribute to a remarkable individual whose impact on the Indigenous rights movement in Australia cannot be overstated. Graeme Neate, a true champion of justice and equality, has left an indelible mark on our nation, and it is with great admiration and gratitude, and respect for his family that we honour his memory.
Graeme Neate was not just a lawyer or an advocate; he was a man of profound empathy, deep understanding, and unwavering commitment. He recognised the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples and dedicated his life to ensuring those rights were recognised and protected under the law.
Together, we navigated the complex Aboriginal land rights, native title, and cultural heritage legal landscape, challenging discriminatory practices and advocating for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Graeme's involvement in landmark cases included the Cape Melville and Flinders Island Land Claim, which he presided over in August 1993. Our archives capture his footprint in years of our work. Through his tireless efforts, he helped secure the recognition of the Yiidhuwarra people, and then as a Member (1995-1999) and President (1999-2013) of the National Native Title Tribunal, oversaw the first 12 Native Title Determinations made in Cape York, empowering Indigenous communities to reclaim their rightful place as custodians of the land.
Beyond the courtroom, Graeme was a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration. He championed reconciliation, striving to bridge the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. He understood that true progress could only be achieved through dialogue, understanding, and a commitment to healing the wounds of the past.
Graeme Neate's legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of those who continue to fight for justice, equality, and the rights of Indigenous peoples. His unwavering dedication and contributions will forever guide us in our pursuit of a more just and inclusive society.
As we honour his memory, let us recommit ourselves to the cause Graeme held so dear. Let us carry his torch and continue the fight for a more equitable Australia. Let us strive to build bridges of understanding and forge a future where the rights and aspirations of all Indigenous peoples are recognised and celebrated.
Graeme John Neate, we feel the loss of your passing, and are deeply grateful for your commitment to indigenous land rights. Our deepest condolences are with his family as we pray that the memories of this great man bring you comfort at times of sorrow and ease the pain of his loss.
With heartfelt gratitude,
Cape York Partnership