Highly respected Aboriginal Elder, Uncle Reg Amos Blow, after years of dedicated service to the Indigenous community as a skilled, compassionate, pragmatic, innovative and inspirational leader and healer was fare-welled by over 2000 family, friends & associates in Melbourne at a moving memorial service on 20 December 2012.
UNCLE REG BLOW 1939 – 2012
Over many years, Uncle Reg has worked hard to achieve practical improvements across different areas of Indigenous affairs. Recognising the need to care for the soul, as well as the mind and body, he has in many cases helped restore health to all three.
Born and raised in Rockhampton, QLD., his father, Amos was a Kumbumerri man and his mother, Edith – was from the Gureng Gureng nation. Although Reg completed no formal education, his father, a boat skipper, instilled in him a strong work ethic. Starting as an elected union delegate in the Gas & Fuel Industry, among his many accomplishments are becoming chairperson of the Centre of Melbourne’s Multi-faith and Other Networks, or COMMON – the first Aboriginal person to preside over an inter-faith group in Australia. Reg initiated the Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-operative, where he helped establish a youth hostel, training programs to teach life skills, a childcare service, giving many women the opportunity to enter the workforce or attend university, and building a network of local employers to provide work.
He assisted in founding the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, and was a research assistant in Aboriginal studies at Monash University – during which time he involved students in a campaign against the destruction of sacred Aboriginal sites in south west Victoria. Reg served as an advisor to the then Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairsand was subsequently asked to head a new Aboriginal Affairs Unit within the Department of Premier and Cabinet, which would manage and implement policy.
He worked to financially empower communities around the state, and collaborated with them on projects as diverse as the Gunditjmara Elders Council, Lake Condah Mission restoration and the Brambruck National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap.
Appointed as Community Corrections Officer and Aboriginal Program Development Officer over a six year period, he oversaw the introduction of Aboriginal Community Justice Panels in 1988, which continue to provide state-wide support to Indigenous people in custody. He also conducted cultural awareness training, and worked in prisons to help rehabilitate Aboriginal inmates and prepare them for life on the outside.
Over many years, Reg has held positions with a number of key Victorian Aboriginal-run organisations, including the Aborigines Advancement League, of which he was CEO, and the Aboriginal Community Elders Service, where he ran day programs and established the Aboriginal Elders Choir. He was a regional Councillor for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) for many years. Reg worked with Aboriginal men helping them grapple with problems such as addiction or incarceration, reconnecting with and understand, their Aboriginal identity, as part of a healing program run by the Gathering Place Health Service in Melbourne’s west.
Reg was a member of the Whittlesea Reconciliation Group and his work in Aboriginal affairs has been recognised with the NAIDOC Aboriginal of the Year award in 1995. Among the many who remember Reg with deep love, gratitude and respect are his wife Walda – a Yorta Yorta woman from Cummeragunja, their four children and loving grandchildren. Read their tributes along with more stories and photos can be read in the National Indigenous Times article attached in our events page. Our condolences to his family and all who knew Uncle Reg and benefited from his presence and dedication. Thanks to Jim Poulter, close friend and associate of Uncle Reg, who offered this tribute.