From today, Yorta Yorta Elder Sir Douglas Nicholls’ name will live on in tangible form with Australia Post releasing a stamp in his honour. The release marks 50 years since the knighting of Sir Doug, the first Indigenous Australian to be knighted, and coincides with NAIDOC Week.
Daughter of Sir Doug and Indigenous rights advocate Yorta Yorta woman Pamela Pedersen said her dad would be “very humbled” about having his face on a stamp.
“I know mum would think it would an amazing honour for the whole Nicholls family, my dad came from very humble beginnings and ended up being knighted,
“He was much loved and respected across Australia and I am so happy that his name lives on.”
Born in 1906 on the Cummeraganja Mission, Sir Doug galvanised the way in Indigenous rights and welfare as an advocate.
He played 54 games as the first Indigenous player in the Victoria Football League for the Fitzroy Football Club.
An injury stunted his football career and, in turn, led him to a life assisting others.
Sir Doug was ordained as a preacher in 1945 and became the inaugural pastor of the first Aboriginal Church of Australia in Fitzroy ― now heritage protected.
It was in Melbourne that he and his wife, Lady Gladys Nicholls, established the Gladys Nicholls Hostel for new Indigenous arrivals to Melbourne, along with a community centre, The Douglas Nicholls Centre.
Sir Doug is renowned for his work in First Nations advocacy and paving the way for others, especially in rallying toward the 1967 referendum and in being appointed the Governor of South Australia in 1976.
Sir Doug and Lady Gladys Nicholls’ granddaughter Bev Murray was the instigator behind the stamp request.
“My grandparents were incredible people and I am proud to walk in their footprints and continue their great work in advancing the rights of our people and supporting the most vulnerable,” she said.
“I am very grateful to Australia Post for remembering my grandparents’ incredible achievements, they are two amazing Elders who should never be forgotten.”