Michael Mansell

Michael Mansell (b 1951), Aboriginal activist. Born in northern Tasmania, Mansell's Aboriginal heritage is Trawlwoolway on his mother's side and Pinterrairer on his father's side, both from the north-east of Tasmania. Mansell qualified as a lawyer, and from the 1970s has been the outstanding leader of the Tasmanian Aborigines as they fought, first for recognition and then for Aboriginal land rights.

Legal manager of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, secretary of the Aboriginal Provisional Government, author of many articles, Mansell has devoted his life to his people, defending their rights in the courts, and pushing to change laws which adversely affect Aboriginal people. His advocacy has often struck a raw nerve with politicians and sections of the media, though others admired him for his courage and tenacity. In 1987 he was chosen as Aborigine of the Year.

Further reading: www.treaty.murdoch.edu.au/papers/michael_mansell.htm; www.historysmiths.com.au.

Alison Alexander