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Margaret (Lilardia) Tucker (1904-1996), a member of the Stolen Generations, was taken from her mother at the age of twelve. She went on to become one of Australia’s first female First Nations activists.

Margaret Clements was born at Warangesda Mission at Darling Point, a small town in the Riverina district of western New South Wales, to Teresa, a Yorta Yorta woman, and William Clements, a Wiradjuri man. She was forcibly removed from her parents at the age of twelve. Of this experience, she recalled later,

I cannot forget the detail of that moment. It stands out as if it were yesterday. It broke our hearts – tearing us apart – by taking us away to learn domestic work (Farquharson).

Margaret trained as a domestic servant in the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls’ Training Home in NSW which operated between 1911 and 1969.

Girls in the homes were referred to as ‘inmates’ and parents were unable to regain access to their children until they turned 18 years, and in many cases never again (Coota Girls).

At the age of sixteen, Margaret began working for white women as a servant.

She suffered abuse at the hands of her first employer and was subsequently placed with a more compassionate family. After attempting to run away, Margaret was sent to a sheep station near Walgett, where she remained for three years (Vic.Gov.Au).

In 1925, Margaret moved to Melbourne and took up factory work. She married Phillip Tucker and the couple’s daughter, Mollie, was born in 1927. Margaret also became an Aboriginal rights activist and in 1932 was a founding member of the Australian Aborigines League.

On Australia Day in 1938, as the nation celebrated 150 years of settlement, she joined League members and others in organising a ‘National Day of Mourning‘ in Sydney. Its intention was to highlight the impact of European arrival on those people to whom the land had belonged (Vic.Gov.Au).

In 1968 Margaret Tucker received an MBE for services to the Aboriginal Community and in 1977 published her autobiography, If Everyone Cared: Autobiography of Margaret Tucker, MBE.


Coota Girls. Aboriginal Corporation. 

“Cootamundra Training Home (1911-1969).” Find & Connect, 2021.

Farquharson, John. “Tucker, Margaret Elizabeth (Auntie Marge) (1904-1996). Obituaries Australia, Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1996. 

“Margaret Tucker MBE (C). A leading figure of the 20th century.” VIC.GOV.AU. First Peoples – State Relations. 

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