Essie Coffey (1940 - 1998), OAM , was born at Essiena Goodgabah in southern
Queensland. She was a Muruwariwoman and the co-founder of the Western Aboriginal Legal Serviceand served on a number of government bodies and Aboriginal community organisations. Her family avoided forced relocation to a reserve by following seasonal rural work.
Coffey co-founded the Western Aboriginal Legal Service and the Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Museum in
Brewarrina, serving on several government bodies and Aboriginal community organisations including the Aboriginal Lands Trustand the Aboriginal Advisory Council. She was an inaugural member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
She was awarded a Medal of the
Order of Australia(OAM) on 10 June 1985, for service to the Aboriginal community. She was nominated for an MBE but refused it, explaining "I knocked the MBE back because I'm not a member of the British Empire".
Coffey was also an active filmmaker. In 1978 she made "My survival as an Aboriginal", which she gave to
Queen Elizabeth IIas a gift at the opening of Australia's new Parliament House in 1988. The sequel, My Life As I Live It, was released in 1993. Coffey also appeared in the film 'Backroads'.
Essie Coffey and her husband, Doc, had 18 children, 10 of whom were adopted.
* [http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/IMP0121b.htm Australian women biographies]
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