The statue of social activist Gladys Nicholls stands next to her husband in the Pastor Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls Memorial in Parliament Gardens, Melbourne. Unveiled on December 9th, 2007, this is one of the first statues of an Aboriginal woman in Australia and the first in Melbourne.
Australian artist Louis Laume sculpted them, depicting Gladys holding Douglas’s hand and looking at him. In the bluestone paving under the statue, Ngarra Murray etched the totems Bigarrumdja the Emu and Waa the Crow with diamond-shaped markings.
The nearby plaque reads –
“Pastor Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls Memorial.
River People who turned the tide of history and injustice to progress the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
DUNGULA WAMAYIRR (River People)
This is the first memorial statue in Melbourne dedicated to two Aboriginal community leaders, Pastor Sir Doug and Ladt Gladys Nicholls. They vigorously fought for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across this country and are an eternal symbol of our ongoing history and commitment to human rights in Australia.
PASTOR SIR DOUGLAS RALPH NICHOLLS
JP MBE OBE OAM KCVO BAPU MAMUS
1906 – 1988
Traditional Owner and Aboriginal Elder of the Yorta Yorta, Baraparapa, Dja Dja Wurrung, Jupagalk and Werkgaia peoples from the Murray, Lodden, Richardson and Wimmera Rivers – the lands of the Emu, Long Neck Turtle, Platypus, Crow and Pelican.
Church of Christ Pastor, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Knight, Governor of South Australia, Justice of the Peace, Footballer, Sprinter, Boxer, Soldier, Statesman, Freemason. A man of the people from Cummeroogunja Mission in Yorta Yorta country, a devout spiritual leader and man of God, Aboriginal community leader, brilliant sportsman, and a fighter for equality and human rights.
LADY GLADYS MURIEL NABY NICHOLLS (nee Bux)
1906 – 1981
Traditional Owner and Aboriginal Elder of the Baraparapa and Dja Dja Wurrung peoples from the Murray and Lodden Rivers – the lands of the Platypus and Crow.
Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Aboriginal Community Leader, Business Woman, Charity Worker, Women’s Activist. A woman of courage and strength, and a fighter for equality for equality and human rights.”
Gladys Nicholls (1906-1981) was born and raised at Cummeragunja Reserve in Yorta Yorta country. At 19, she married Herbert “Dowie” Nicholls; they moved to Melbourne and had three children. Sadly, in 1942, Dowie died following a car accident, and soon, Gladys married his brother, Douglas.
They became community leaders; Gladys’s involvement in the Aboriginal community in Melbourne included opening a series of opportunity shops, teaching at a Sunday school, and organizing fundraisers to support families in need. In addition, the couple raised awareness of the Aboriginal community’s social and economic challenges and advocated for social justice, improved conditions, and heritage conservation of Indigenous Australians.
In 1976, Douglas was appointed the Governor of South Australia, and Gladys became the first Indigenous woman to be the consort of a state governor in Australia.
ParliamentReserve SirDouglasNicholsStatue AliKayn c 2019
2019-10 Visit to Parliament Reserve, Melbourne, Australia - Sir Douglas Nicholls and Lady Gladys Nicholls, aboriginal activists, also showing aboriginal flag flying over Parliament House, Spring Street, Melbourne. (c) Ali Kayn mmix
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ParliamentReserve SirDouglasNicholsStatue AliKayn c 20192019-10 Visit to Parliament Reserve, Melbourne, Australia - Sir Douglas Nicholls and Lady Gladys Nicholls, aboriginal activists, also showing aboriginal flag flying over Parliament House, Spring Street, Melbourne. (c) Ali Kayn mmix
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