Gladys Elphick

Biography of Gladys Elphick

Gladys elphick was an Australian of descent Kaurna Y Ngadjuri, was born on August 27, 1904 in Wright Court, Adelaide, South Australia. Born as Gladys walters, their parents were John Herbert Walters and Gertrude adams.

The Kaurna and Ngadjuri are native peoples of Australia, whose traditional lands are, one in the plains and the other, in the north half of South Adelaide.

He grew up and lived for the first thirty-five years of his life in the Aboriginal Reserve Point Pearce from Narannga village. Gladys was noted for working tirelessly to achieve the well-being of Aboriginal people in Australia.

He married twice, first with Walter hughes (1922–37) and later, with Frederick elphick (1940–69).

In the 1940s, Gladys Elphick joined the Aborigines Advancement League of South Australia, which was the nation’s first group of Aboriginal women. Beginning in 1964, Gladys Elphick was the founding president of the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia, the first Aboriginal association in South Australia.

In 1966, “Aunty Glad” or “Aunt Glad”, as everyone knew her, became a member of the State Aboriginal Affairs Board. An employee of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs from Australia described her as “a mother to her people, a person who has always worked for their well-being”.

In 1971 Gladys Elphick received the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), in recognition of service to the Aboriginal community. Their efforts led to the founding of multiple institutions, created to ensure care and assistance to the Australian Aboriginal community.

Aunt Glad was a tireless advocate for indigenous women, inspiring numerous women to defend their rights and fight for their privileges.

Gladys Elphick died on January 19, 1988, at the age of 83, and was buried in Centennial Park Cemetery, in South Adelaide, Australia.

Gladys Elphick’s Family Life

At eight months, Gladys was taken to live with relatives in the Aboriginal Reserve Point Pearce, on the Yorke Peninsula. She was educated at the local school, where she learned to play the organ. At age 12, he dropped out of school to work at the Point Pearce dairy station.

At age 18, she married Walter Hughes, a shearer, with whom she had two sons: Timothy and Alfred. After 15 years of marriage, Walter Hughes died in Burra, in the mid-north of South Australia.

Gladys was a widow and responsible for raising her two young children alone, so two years later, she left the Reserve and moved to Adelaide. There, she lived with her cousin Gladys O’Brien and initially worked as a domestic worker to support her family. Later, during World War II, he worked at the Islington Munitions Factory in the northern suburbs of Adelaide. There Gladys managed to create a shell with a single tool instead of the usual two they used to make shell shells for projectiles and other ammunition.

After the Second World War, she met Frederick Elphick, a former military man, who would be her second husband from 1940. After getting married, they settled in Thebarton, a neighborhood 2 km from Adelaide. Thereafter, she was known as Gladys Elphick.

Community work

After being part of the Aborigines Advancement League of South Australia in the 1940s, in the 1960s she was again active in community work with the League.

From 1964 to 1973, Elphick was the president of the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia, a role that she played to the full during those nine years and that allowed the Aboriginal Women’s Council to be active during the campaign for the 1967 Referendum.

In 1973, the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia became the Aboriginal Council of South Australia, to accept aboriginal men.

That same year, Aunt Glad was so involved in creating the Aboriginal Community Center, of which she was the treasurer as in the creation of College of Aboriginal Education.

Later, in 1977 he participated in the creation of the Aboriginal Medical Service of South Australia and in the formation of a Legal Assistance Service. These community services assisted in the fight against discrimination and exploitation of Aboriginal people in Australia. And is that Aunt Glad was a woman of Kaurna, who worked her entire life for the welfare of Australian Aboriginal women.

Gladys Elphick Honors and Awards

The greatest recognition for her services to the Aboriginal community given to Aunt Glad was making her Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1971.

In 1984, when she was eighty years old, she was named the South Australian Aboriginal of the Year as part of the acts of the National Aboriginal Week.

In 1995, the University of Adelaide honored her by naming the Aboriginal Programs Unit “Wilto Yerlo” (Sea Eagle) after Aunt Glad’s totem.

There is a plaque honoring Gladys Elphick and her work for the community on the Jubilee 150 Walkway, a North Terrace trail, Adelaide. On this trail there are 150 bronze plaques with “a selection of people who have made a significant contribution to the community or won national and international recognition for their work.”

In 2003, the Aboriginal women’s group advising the South Australian International Women’s Day Committee introduced the Gladys Elphick Award. It is a Community Spirit Award that recognizes Aboriginal women who excel in their work in promoting the well-being of the indigenous population.

One of the western parks located in the Adelaide Park Lands has been named “Gladys Elphick Park” in her honor.

On August 27, 2019, Gladys elphick was honored by Google, who released a Doodle dedicated to her, in commemoration of the 115th anniversary of her birth.

Google Doodle Commemorating Gladys Elphick’s 115th Birthday

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