Rick Farley

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Rick Farley
BornRichard Andrew Farley
(1952-12-09)9 December 1952
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Died13 May 2006(2006-05-13) (aged 53)
Sydney, Australia
OccupationPolitician, Civil rights activist
SubjectSocial issues
Literary movementAboriginal reconciliation

Richard Andrew Farley (9 December 1952 – 13 May 2006) was an Australian born journalist, politician, land rights and civil rights activist for the rights of Indigenous Australians. He emerged in the public's eye as a prominent member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, an organisation that looked to establish healthy, multicultural relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians.

Personal life[edit]

Farley was born in Townsville, Queensland, on 9 December 1952. In 1983, Farley married Cathy Reade. Together, they had one son and one daughter, Jeremy and Cailin Farley.[1] They separated in 1996 and Farley went on to date Australian Labor Party MP Linda Burney, the first Indigenous member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and the former Deputy Leader of the New South Wales Opposition.

Farley was described by those close to him as having had "an extraordinary ability to persuade, negotiate and build bridges to gain bipartisan support for the matters he was passionate about".[2]


Farley began his career as a journalist for the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, and as an advisor to the Federal Minister for Health in the Whitlam Government. He eventually became the executive director of the Cattlemen's Union of Australia and the chief executive of the National Farmers' Federation, a position he held for eight years.[3]

In 1989, while the head of the National Farmer's Federation, collaborating with Philip Toyne from the Australian Conservation Foundation, Farley succeeded in acquiring a financial contribution from the Australian Government towards the national Landcare volunteer movement. Following the investment, Farley committed his life and his career to the needs of farmers, conservationists and to the process of reconciliation towards the Indigenous population.[4]

That same year, Farley ran for the Australian Senate as a candidate for the centrist Australian Democrats. He represented the Australian Capital Territory on the platform of improving a future for all Australians by first establishing co-operation between Settler Australians and Indigenous Australians and by the conservation of the native ecology through the Landcare movement.[5]


On 13 May 2006, at the age of 53, Farley died after his wheelchair overturned outside Balmain Hospital in Sydney. He had been leaving after undergoing rehabilitation treatment for a brain aneurysm which he had suffered five months earlier.[6] His funeral was held at St Brigid's Church, in Marrickville. The service was attended not only by numerous prominent politicians and celebrities, but also by indigenous Australians and rural cattlemen and farmers whom he had represented during his career.[7] He was survived by his partner Linda Burney and two children, to his first wife Cathy Reade, Jeremy and Cailin.


Farley was actively involved in Australian politics, with the most notable being his contribution towards the creation of the Landcare movement, an environmental organisation with thousands of volunteers across Australia.

In December 2006, Linda Burney nominated the Rick Farley Memorial Scholarship to encourage young Indigenous Australians to pursue environmental conservation and cultural management, and to honour his career as well as his achievements in life.[8]


  1. ^ Stephens, Tony (23 May 2006). "Tributes flow for Farley". The Age (Melbourne, Australia). p. 7. Mr Farley, who had suffered a brain aneurism on Boxing Day, died in a fall from a wheelchair recently. He was 53... The secular funeral service at St Brigid's Church, Marrickville, was attended by NSW Premier Morris Iemma, a dozen Labor members of federal and state parliaments led by the deputy federal leader, Jenny Macklin, and former Liberal MPs John Hewson, Ian McLachlan and Fred Chaney, a pallbearer... Erin Farley, a niece, stood with his children, Jeremy and Cailin, to tell how he was "incredibly complex" and hated to see others in need.
  2. ^ "Australia: Australian Landcare Council pays tribute to extraordinary contribution of Rick Farley in establishing Landcare movement". Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Former NFF boss dies". ABC News. 15 December 2006.
  4. ^ "What happened to brave leaders? A look at the life of Rick Farley". The Conversation. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  5. ^ Simms, Marian (2000). Howard's Agenda: The 1998 Australian Election. Queensland, Australia: University of Queensland Press. p. 147. ISBN 0 7022 3163 0.
  6. ^ "Farley's death accidental: police". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  7. ^ "The greatest loss – a life in progress". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  8. ^ "Wandanian man wins scholarship" (PDF). Koori Mail. Retrieved 3 April 2014.

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