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Aboriginal Australian activist, Tauto Sansbury (b. circa 1949, died 2019), was in a children’s home as a child.

Tauto Sansbury, a Narunnga elder, was born at Port Pearce Mission, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. The mission was founded in 1868 by the Yorke Pensinsula Aboriginal Mission committee in response to the growing number of white people on the peninsula, attracted by the discovery of copper there and the impact of that growth on the Indigenous population.

The mission was taken over by the South Australian government in 1915 and was known as the Point Pearce Aboriginal Station.

Being born on Point Pearce you were not allowed to speak your native tongue or practise your culture, customs or tradition.

The church didn’t allow that and neither did the missionaries. They said it was God who didn’t like you speaking your language or practicing your culture, song and dance, because it was a heathen tongue and heathen practises.

In 1972, ownership of the land was transferred to the Point Pearce Community Council under the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act.

Tauto Sansbury was removed from his family and, along with two brothers, was taken to live in a boys’ home. According to his partner, he was “brutalised and abused in boys’ homes.”

In 2015, Sansbury spoke at a NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week event where he said,

I know the [issue of the] incarceration of young Aboriginal people well. I know the impact of the Stolen Generation and being locked up in a boys’ home. I’ve been through that system and I’ve come out the other end and I’ve survived.

For more than thirty years Tauto Sansbury was an advocate for Aboriginal rights. He served for ten years as the Chair of the South Australian Aboriginal Justice Advocacy Committee and the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee. He also worked (in paid and unpaid roles) for the South Australian Aboriginal Coalition for Social Justice and had earlier been involved in implementing recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Tauto Sansbury also made two attempts for a seat in the South Australian and federal governments in 2010, representing the Australian Labor Party. His last comment on social media in August 2019 was to suggest that Aboriginal Australians set up their own political party.

In February 2019, the South Australian government offered $10,000 by way of compensation to members of the Stolen Generations, on top of $20,000 paid earlier. Tauto Sansbury, however, rejected the offer. He told NITV News,

Mr Sansbury had an initial discussion with the state government about the scheme but said he didn’t want to go through any more pain talking about his experience. I had to draw a picture to prove that I was in a boy’s home at the beginning of discussions (Smith).

Tauto Sansbury was the recipient of a 2015 National Indigenous Human Rights Award “for overcoming significant disadvantage and minimal education to rise as a champion for Indigenous justice and youth” (Richards).


Radford, Luke, Smallacombe, Angela and Coggan, Michael. “Social justice advocate Tauto Sansbury remembered as a ‘true warrior for his people.” ABC News, 24 September 2019.

Richards, Stephanie. “Leading SA Aboriginal campaigner Tauto Sansbury dies.” InDaily, 24 September 2019.

Sansbury, Tauto. “My name is Tauto Sansbury.” The Stringer, 28 June 2015.

Smith, Douglas. “$10,000 more for survivors of South Australia’s Stolen Generations.” NITV, 15 February 2019.

Image available here.