Passionate elder remembered

The life of a much respected elder from Gippsland’s indigenous community, Uncle Albert Mullett, will be remembered at one of his most treasured sites – the Knob Reserve in Stratford.

‘Uncle Albert’, 81, an East Gippslander of the Gunai Kurnai people, passed away last week, prompting an outpouring of tributes from Gippsland’s indigenous and non-indigenous community.

Born in Melbourne in 1933, Uncle Albert grew to become one of the region’s most respected elders, leading a 15-year land rights campaign, culminating in the landmark Gunai Kurnai Native Title Settlement Agreement, signed in 2010.

An educator and cross-cultural communicator, Uncle Albert was also no stranger to bureaucracy, working closely with cultural and heritage bodies, as well as government, private sector and community-run organisations.

His ongoing work saw him inducted into the Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll in 2013.

Uncle Albert’s daughter and Latrobe Valley-based educator Dr Doris Paton said his ability to form strong relationships with people “from all walks of life” was key to his success as a political activist and lobbyist.

“He formed relationships with everybody and everything, and he was never afraid to say what needed to be said,” Dr Paton said.

“There was a passion he put into his family and his people that inspired and motivated many.”

Dr Paton said there were few things he did without passion, including his love of fishing and his dogs.

Uncle Albert was also known for his skill as a craftsmen of traditional wooden artefacts, including shields and boomerangs, and was the focus of a recent black and white photographic exhibition at Latrobe Regional Gallery.

The stunning photographic essay, titled ‘Boorun’s Canoe’, captured Uncle Albert teaching his grandson Steaphan Paton and other family members to build a bark canoe

A ceremony for Uncle Albert will be held at the Knob Reserve on 1 August at 11am, which according to Dr Paton, is a sacred cultural site and was a place “of great significance to Dad”.

Uncle Albert leaves behind eight children, 17 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.