Respected indigenous elder and LGBTIQA+ leader passes away

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01/30/2022

Respected Indigenous elder Vanessa Smith has passed away following a long illness. A Noongar Sistergirl of the Kaneang people in the state’s South West, Aunty Vanessa spent decades fighting for both LGBTIQA+ rights and Indigenous rights. Among her many achievements were serving as Chair of the Gay Men and Sistergirls Steering Committee for Australia Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), being an Elder Representative for TEKWABI GIZ (Mindout’s Indigenous Advisory Committee for the National LGBTI Health Alliance), serving on the board of Derbarl Yerrigan Aboriginal Medical Service, and working with Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP) and Gay and Lesbian Equality (GALE). In a 2020 interview with OUTinPerth she shared that her journey into activism and advocacy began with a successful drag career in the 1960s.

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