My friend and comrade Marc Newhouse died peacefully at home on February 12 at the age of 58, surrounded by his family and close friend, Nyoongar Elder Uncle Ben Taylor Cuiermara.
Marc was a well-known and respected activist in the WA progressive community. He played a leading role in the First Nations Deaths in Custody Watch Committee for more than 15 years.
He led the Committee during crucial campaigns, including those seeking justice for Ngaanyatjarra Elder Mr Ward, and 22-year-old Yamatiji woman Ms Dhu, which drew much needed attention to the ongoing issue of deaths in custody.
His tireless efforts contributed significantly to political gains and public consciousness.
Marc possessed a unique combination of attributes that made him an outstanding activist. He was always committed, determined, disciplined and focused in his activism. His approach was collaborative, supportive and respectful, which made him a skilful negotiator and spokesperson for the Committee — and he did it all with a great sense of humour.
Marc was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, and moved to South Africa at an early age. He developed a healthy contempt for the racist apartheid system and when he came to Australia, he was heavily involved in the WA anti-apartheid movement.
He helped form Western Australia South African Solidarity and led a work-study brigade to South Africa after the 1994 elections.
Marc was chair of West Australians for Racial Equality for many years and worked at the Equal Opportunity Commission where he fought discrimination in all its forms.
Marc was a committed socialist who always made the link between racism, sexism and the toxic, destructive and divisive nature of capitalism.
He was an active Community and Public Sector Union-Civil Service Association member and, at times, held the union delegate position in his workplace and served on the union’s state council.
Marc will be missed by the WA progressive community, but his death will inspire us to continue the incredible contribution he has made over many years.