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Vale Mr John 'Jack' Ah Kit (1950-2020)

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Council and CEO, Mr Craig Ritchie are saddened to learn of the passing of Jawoyn Leader and Elder Mr John 'Jack' Ah Kit.

We extend our sincere condolences to Mr Ah Kit's family, community and friends.

Mr Ah Kit was an Australian Labour politician and the first Indigenous Minister to serve in the Northern Territory Government. He represented Arnhem in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly from 1995 to 2005.

His ministerial portfolios included: Community Development, Housing, Local Government, Regional Development and assisting the Chief Minister on Indigenous Affairs. He retired from public office in 2005, but continued to advocate for his community.

He served as the Chairman of the Nitmiluk National Park Board of Management and an advisor to the Jawoyn Association. He was also part of the Reference Group to the Anderson­Wild inquiry into child abuse in Aboriginal communities.

At the National NAIDOC Awards in 2007, he was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award. He also received a Doctor of Letters Honoris Causa from the Council of Charles Darwin University in 2009.

AIATSIS CEO Craig Ritchie said Mr Ah Kit was a political trailblazer who dedicated his life to improving and advocating for his community. He was also instrumental in working with elders to protect Coronation Hill in Kakadu from further exploration and mining.

"Mr Ah Kit's achievements were many and his legacy will continue to inspire and benefit the community and nation for many generations to come."

Mr Ah Kit was born in Alice Springs on 22 July 1950. He was the fifth of 13 children. He attended Darwin and Parap primary schools, and Darwin High School. He worked on a number of Top End cattle stations before obtaining an Associate Diploma in Social Work from the {then) South Australian Institute of Technology.

Mr Ah Kit is described as a "brother, cousin, husband, father, uncle and grandfather, but he also had connections for many other people and friends across the Northern Territory and the Australian nation as a leader and advocate for Aboriginal people, their countries and their rights".

As a country we are richer for his life and work and poorer for his passing. Vale!