The Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority released this statement on April 22.
It is with considerable sadness that we announce the passing of Thomas Trevorrow at the age of 58 from a heart attack at his office at Camp Coorong, Meningie.
Trevorrow was a strong and proud Ngarrindjeri man and a leading advocate for Aboriginal rights in Australia. He worked throughout his life to better the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and to support the advancement and recognition of the Ngarrindjeri people.
With his wife Ellen, Trevorrow worked for 30 years to develop programs like the Ngarrindjeri Lands and Progress Association and Camp Coorong that fostered and supported Ngarrindjeri culture, arts and tradition, such as weaving.
Trevorrow shared with Ellen a commitment to enriching the life of the Ngarrindjeri community and ensured this focus was integral to the development of the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority. He worked closely alongside his brother George and his Ngarrindjeri brother, Mathew Rigney.
Trevorrow was highly respected by all for his wisdom and insight into Aboriginal matters and a key leader in advancing Indigenous issues. His contribution to asserting the position of Aboriginal people and their proper relationship to governments and non-Indigenous people was significant at state and national levels.
His reputation as an Indigenous leader and educator was internationally recognised. He was a sought after speaker by political leaders at all levels of government, by universities, local councils and community organisations.
Trevorrow was highly respected for his spiritual and cultural life. He was a person of great honesty and personal integrity. He will be sadly missed by many people.
He believed strongly that the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people needed healing. He felt that the government did not consistently act in a meaningful or respectful manner in its dealings with Indigenous people. This was particularly the case when issues of power and control of government were being challenged by Indigenous people.
Trevorrow believed that the original promises of a just settlement in the 1836 Letters patent for South Australia needed to be followed through by the state government and that a treaty needed to be negotiated between Indigenous people and the state government.
He thought that a treaty would be a powerful healer of the pain felt by Aboriginal people in their daily lives, provide justice to those who had passed without knowing it, and provide a proper platform for those Indigenous people living in the future.
He was a highly respected Ngarrindjeri man. He worked endlessly and tirelessly to advance Ngarrindjeri interests, whether this was as a group of people or for individual Ngarrindjeri people. He was manager of Camp Coorong: Race Relations and Cultural Education Centre and Chair of the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority.
He had a deep cultural understanding of his lands and waters, he knew that the lands and waters need not to be disconnected from the Ngarrindjeri people and he fought hard with governments to make them better understand. He passes with the knowledge that the government does have a better understanding of these issues. He passes knowing his beloved Ngarrindjeri people are strong and have a good base upon which to build their relationships.
Trevorrow will be sadly missed by many people but the work he did throughout his life will continue to influence people’s lives into the future. Our condolences to Tom Trevorrow’s extended family including his uncles and aunties, his brothers and sisters, his wife, Ellen and their children, Thomas, Frank, Bruce, Tanya, Joe, Luke and Hank and his grandchildren.