Rosalie Kunoth Monks has had a major impact on the nation’s cultural, political and social life for more than half a century.
By
NITV

8 Jul 2015 - 1:03 PM  UPDATED 30 Jun 2016 - 5:15 PM

Rosalie, the chancellor of the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, has never been stronger in her fight for social justice and equality for her people. 

Rosalie was born in 1937 at Arapunya known as Utopia Station in the Northern Territory where she learnt the laws of her people, the Anmatjere. 

After moving to Alice Springs to attend school, Rosalie was cast in the lead role in the world-renowned Australian classic film Jedda in 1955 at 16 years old.

Later, Rosalie spent a decade as a nun in a Melbourne convent before leaving to establish the first Aboriginal hostel in Victoria. In 1970 she married, settled in Alice Springs and became involved in social work and politics.

In 2007, she was presented with the Northern Territory Tribute to Women Award for working for the rights of Indigenous women.

She has been president of Barkly Shire since 2008 and got involved in political life when she stood for election to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly in 1979 where she campaigned to oppose the proposed construction of a dam that threatened to destroy land sacred to her people.

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The next year she went to Canberra for Amnesty International and denounced the federal government’s intervention into Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory as a huge violation of human rights.

By 2008, she had returned to her Utopia homelands, 260 kilometres northeast of Alice Springs and continued to advocate for sovereignty and people having access to their land, language and culture. She travels around the country and the world raising awareness of these issues.

By 2008, she had returned to her Utopia homelands, 260 kilometres northeast of Alice Springs and continued to advocate for sovereignty and people having access to their land, language and culture. 

Rosalie has protested the Northern Territory Intervention for many years. In 2010, at the age of 73, Rosalie travelled with Reverend Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM to Geneva to attend the UN meeting of the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, where her concerns about the Northern Territory Intervention were acknowledged internationally.

Person of the Year Rosalie Kunoth-Monks accepts her NAIDOC Award

Rosalie worked for her cause as part of many initiatives including the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and Aboriginal Hostels.

She said that such action deprived Indigenous people of their traditional lands, which took away their, “opportunities to speak their native language and severing links with [their] culture. … Our beings are very fragile. We disagree with being herded by the army into the big centres”.