WA 2019 Senior Australian of the Year Frank Mallard passed away on August 10. He was a great Western Australian; an Indigenous man and Yamatji elder who was an example to us all.
In public life for as long as I have been, it was impossible not to know Frank. He was devoted to service and determined to inspire. How inspirational he was he probably did not know until his later years. He was part of the Stolen Generation but he knew his family. He was proud of his Uncles who had served in both wars.
So he determined to serve himself. He joined the army in October 1962 and was posted to the school of military engineering. He re-joined, repeatedly volunteering himself into wartime situations – Borneo and Vietnam. He was additionally posted overseas, his family travelling with him. So early a volunteer for Vietnam was he that he served when IRAR was attached to the US 173rd Airborne. Along with his multiple service medals, that service saw him entitled to the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
He was with the regular army from 1962 to 1985 and then the Army Reserve until 1999. He reached the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. He could not keep away from service or danger, volunteering for the UN in Croatia with the NATO force.
He married his second wife in Croatia. In civilian life he worked with Prison Services. As a military exemplar and an Indigenous elder he was uniquely positioned for volunteer work and was constantly engaged with ex-service organisation and voluntary activities. Notably, Chairman of the Voice of the Voiceless Ministry, devoted to people with drug, mental and social challenges.
He loved the Army. He loved the idea of serving his country. He was deeply conscious of the honourable character of that service. Fortunately for us his biography was published just before his passing. Frank’s story will continue to inspire. He would hope that inspiration would carry us through to constitutional change to recognise the traditional owners and complete reconciliation.
Deepest sympathy to his wife Tanja and his family.
The Honourable Kim Beazley AC