Saturday, January 28, 2012
Sir Douglas Ralph "Doug" Nicholls KCVO, OBE
Apart from his sporting achievements he become involved with the Church of Christ in 1935 and later went on to become a pastor within the Church. During the early years of world war two he was called up into the army but was quickly discharged at police request due to his mentoring and social work with aboriginal people in the Fitzroy area, during this time he was wedded to his late brothers wife Gladys and in their 39 years together had three children and raising his brothers three children. After the war years Douglas became even more deeply involved in indigenous issues within his local and broader community and becoming a leader in the calls for reconcilliation between blacks and whites, and a Field Officer in the Aboriginal Advancement League, and the church where he was eventually ordained to the ministry. He also went on to to become a founding member of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. In 1962 Douglas was named Victorias Father of the year on Fathers day and 1968 an Officer of the Order of the British Empire(MBE 1957) the year 1972 saw him bacome the first Aboriginal person ever to be knighted, receiving the honour of Knight Bachelor. On the 1st of December 1976 Sir Douglass was appointed to arguably his highest honour becoming the 28th Governor of South Australia but he was forced to retire on the 30th of April the following year due to ill health. As with Sir Douglas's knighthood he was the first Aboriginal to be appointed to such a prestigious office. In the year 1977 Her Majesty the Queen appointed him to be a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, and in 1991 the suburb of Nicholls was named after him in the nations capital in Canberra. He died on the fourth of June 1988 and was interred at the cemeterary in Cummeragunja.
It is not the place of the young fogey to lecture others on who should be their leaders, but as Australians we can all only hope that in the future men of Sir Douglas Nicholls calibre emerge once again to lead us and to become our role models or we risk seeing the images and debates that took place earlier this week repeated in our future.