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Margaret (Lilardia) Tucker MBE

1904 – 1996

Pioneer of the Aboriginal Rights Movement, Author


Margaret Tucker – Aboriginal name Lilardia (meaning flower) was a pioneer in the Aboriginal struggle for equality. She was born at Warragesa Mission in 1904, to William and Theresa Clements nee Middleton, her mother’s name was Yamuk (meaning strong leader)

In 1917, Margaret aged 13, and her younger sister May were removed from their family against their mother’s wishes. Both were placed at the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home.

After working in Sydney as a domestic, Margaret moved to Melbourne. In the 1920’s she met and married Phil Tucker and later had a daughter Mollie Dyer A.M. Mollie, like her mother, became active in the Aboriginal Rights movement and played a major role in establishing the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency now known as ACCA.

In 1932, Margaret was a founding member of the Australian Aboriginal Advancement League. In 1938 she helped to organise the Day of Mourning in Sydney.

In 1938, Margaret was awarded the M.B.E (Member of the British Empire) for services to the Aboriginal Community.

In 1957, the Aboriginal Advancement League was established, Margaret was a member of the executive committee and honoured with a lifetime membership.

In the 1960s, Margaret formed and was president of the United Council for Aboriginal and Island Women. With members of the United council, she established a Soup kitchen, where homeless and needy members were provided with a meal.

In 1964, Margaret became the first Aboriginal Woman to be appointed to the Aborigines Welfare Board.

In 1967, Margaret also became a member of the Federal Council of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders which played a major role in obtaining equal rights for voting rights for Aborigines and the Referendum.

In 1968 Margaret was appointed to the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Committee.

But overall Margaret – known to many as ‘Aunty Marge’ was renowned for her compassion, humility, and courage – she became a moral beacon for all people.

Margaret was a mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, and Aunty to all. She left a massive imprint on the lives of people she met on her journeys.

Those who were lucky enough to have known her remember her for the Kindness, love, and warmth she took with her wherever she went. To Margaret everyone was family – everyone was equal.

Margaret is proof that one person can make a positive difference in the lives of so many for generations to come, our actions do ripple through to the future, and what a ripple of love she has left.


Biography provided by Grand-daughter Barbara Burns.


Further reading:

Tucker, M – If Everyone Cared: Autobiography of Margaret Tucker, Sydney, Ure Smith, 1977.