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Aunty Josie Agius to be honoured at Port Adelaide Workers' Memorial

May 01, 2016

Much-loved South Australian Aboriginal Elder Aunty Josie will be honoured today with the addition of her name on the Port Adelaide Workers' Memorial.

The memorial, on the corner of St Vincent Street and Commercial Road, was unveiled in 1921 and lists the names of people who fought not in wars, but in the battle for better working conditions for ordinary people.

Secretary, Joe Szakacs says that only people who have made an outstanding contribution to the working class people of Port Adelaide are eligible to be immortalised on this memorial.

"Aunty Josie was highly respected across South Australia and the nation for her inexhaustible commitment to Aboriginal people, especially children and young people."

"She worked for many years as an Aboriginal education worker at the Taperoo Primary School and, as a member of the Australian Education Union, contributed to the creation of the first Aboriginal Education Workers Industrial Agreement."

Mr Szakacs says Aunty Josie also worked in the 1980's as one of the state's first Aboriginal health workers, and was part of the team that developed a cultural framework for how hospitals and community health services respond to Aboriginal people.

"She was a good unionist, a great champion for Reconciliation and had a deep commitment to sharing her culture with non-Aboriginal Australians."

Background Information

Aboriginal Elder Aunty Josie Agius was a Narungga, Kaurna, Ngarrindjeri, and Ngadjuri Leader who passed in January 2016 at the age of 81.  Born in Wallaroo in 1934, she grew up at Point Pearce on the Yorke Peninsula, and maintained a strong connection with the region and its people.

Aunty Josie also became well known throughout the union movement and around the State for the thousands of Aboriginal Welcomes to Country she gave in the traditional Kaurna language.

In 2009, Aunty Josie was inducted into the SA Women's Honour Roll, and was patron of the 2014 and 2015 NAIDOC SA Awards.  In 2014 she won the Premier's NAIDOC Award as an extraordinary South Australian whose outstanding achievements and activities have made a significant difference to the lives and welfare of Aboriginal people in South Australia.