Dennis Eggington has a vision of social justice for Aboriginal people based on fundamental human rights and a 'fair go' for all.
A Nyungar man, Dennis has served his people passionately for most of his life. As a pragmatic and esteemed leader, he is very often the voice of the Nyungar people.
Dennis is currently chief executive officer of the Aboriginal Legal Service, a position he has occupied for 12 years. His status within the organisation is enormously high. This comes from not only running the service successfully, but also because he is at all times an ardent and committed defender of Aboriginal rights. He is not only respected by the Nyungar people, but also the non-Aboriginal community throughout the state.
An articulate man of great foresight and principle, he opposed the Northbridge curfew, supported Aboriginal land rights as the basis for enabling Indigenous Australians to live a good life and strongly opposed those who have sought to blame Aboriginal culture for domestic violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities. His call for a Human Rights Act, both in WA and nationally, is indicative of his unshakable moral standpoint.
As well as being very active in his role with the Aboriginal Legal Service, Dennis has given countless hours of community service.
He has been at the heart of discussions about the nature of Nyungar sovereignty and nation, personally consulting communities throughout Nyungar country. He has also spoken out on behalf of Aboriginal people as a delegate on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
He was a leading member of the Coalition of Aboriginal Agencies, the peak body for Aboriginal agencies in Perth. Under their auspices, Dennis helped establish the Indigenous Family Program with its key focus on keeping Aboriginal people out of the justice system. It has a holistic approach to Aboriginal family issues and deals with health, housing and justice, to name a few.
He holds or has held a number of formal committee positions whilst representing the Aboriginal community. He acted as Chairman of the WA Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and Chairman of the WA Aboriginal Language Conference. He served on the Perth ATSIC Regional Council and spent time on the board of various community controlled organisations including the WA Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service, the Western Australian Aboriginal Media Association and the Manjimup Aboriginal Corporation. He was on the board of the Australian Academy of Race Relations and was treasurer for the Dumartung Aboriginal Corporation and also the Third Conference of the World's Indigenous Peoples.
Dennis is also a highly valued member of the Aboriginal Advisory Committee for the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin.
Although he has made many personal sacrifices, Dennis has shown great resilience and dedication to sustain the fight for justice and equity. He is a modest man of great generosity and compassion, who has made a significant contribution to improving the welfare and opportunities of Indigenous Australians. He is a true champion for his people.
Dennis Eggington is indeed a most worthy recipient of the John Curtin Medal.