- Born 1 January, 1940, Goodooga Queensland Australia
- Died 3 January, 1998
- Occupation Actor, Community worker, Filmmaker, Singer
Essie Coffey was a Muruwari woman born in southern Queensland. She was co-founder of the Western Aboriginal Legal Service and served on a number of government bodies and Aboriginal community organisations.
Born at Essiena Goodgabah in southern Queensland, Essie Coffey and her family were fortunate to avoid forced relocation to a reserve. Instead they lived on the move, following seasonal rural work.
Coffey went on to be co-founder of the Western Aboriginal Legal Service and the Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Museum in Brewarrina, serving on several government bodies and Aboriginal community organisations including the Aboriginal Lands Trust and the Aboriginal Advisory Council. She was an inaugural member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
Coffey was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) on 10 June 1985, for service to the Aboriginal Community. She was nominated for an MBE but refused it, explaining “I knocked the MBE back because I’m not a member of the British Empire”.
With Martha Ansara, Coffey made the award-winning film My survival as an Aboriginal (1978), which she gave to Queen Elizabeth II as a gift at the opening of Australia’s new Parliament House in 1988. The sequel, My Life As I Live It, was released in 1993. Coffey also appeared in the film ‘Backroads’.
Essie Coffey and her husband, Doc, had 18 children, 10 of whom were adopted.
- Edited Book
- Newspaper Article
- Memorial to a great woman, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/IndigLRes/car/2000/4/wtpage28.htm
- Australia looses Essie Coffey, Bush Queen of Brewarrina, 1998, http://www.atsic.gov.au/News_Room/ATSIC_News/March_1998/bush_queen.asp
- Trove: Coffey, Essie (1941-1998), http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-619024
- The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia, Smart, Judith and Swain, Shurlee (eds.), 2014, http://www.womenaustralia.info/leaders
- Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection
- National Film and Sound Archive
- National Library of Australia, Oral History and Folklore Collection
- National Library of Australia