Remembering Rick Farley

Published 21 Sep 2006 

Rick Farley died on 13 May in a tragic accident just months after he was severely debilitated by a brain aneurism. He'd been a member of the Bush Heritage Board since 2002 and contributed greatly to Bush Heritage, particularly by promoting constructive alliances with Aboriginal people.

Rick Farley. Photo Lew Griffiths courtesy Linda Burney.Rick Farley.
Photo by Rob Little, RLDI

Rick had an active and illustrious working life during which he was Executive Director of the National Farmers’ Federation and the Cattlemen's Union of Australia. He was a member of the National Native Title Tribunal, the Australian Landcare Council, the national Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, the Australia–China Council and the Commission for the Future.

The following remarks have been adapted from the eulogy given at Rick's funeral by his good friend Phillip Toyne, President of Bush Heritage:

"Rick was a great Australian who was contributing to the reshaping of Australia – to the way we relate to the land and to each other. He was highly principled … a consummate advocate for farmers and later for Aboriginal rights.

Rick was also a creative alliance builder, believing that several interest groups could achieve way more together than any one could alone, and perhaps that's an enduring lesson to those working towards big solutions for Australia’s future. We must tell and retell the story of his achievements, for Rick’s story can inspire a new generation of Australians and show them that creating the sort of Australia we can and should have requires going beyond the relaxed and comfortable to confront the difficult and important.

We must redouble our efforts to create the sort of Australia Rick believed we should have – one that is fair and just and sustainable, particularly for Indigenous Australians.

With so much achieved in his 53 years, we looked forward to more from him in the future. Australia has been sorely denied. We must never forget him."

Bush Heritage has established the Rick Farley Memorial Scholarship for young Indigenous people working in conservation management. Many friends and associates of Rick’s, including organisations with which he worked, have made gifts to build the value of this scholarship.

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