Statements on the passing of Aboriginal leader Sam Watson 

Artwork: Jyi Lawton

A Murri can’t have grown up in Brisbane without acknowledging they knew or knew of Uncle Sam Watson. 

For many years Sam carried the torch for community whilst working for organisations to be a shield against inequality, unfairness and racism. He featured highly in media reports and was sought out by the media for his opinion.  

The common purpose link between Uncle and Caxton is him being a member of the ATSILS management committee. Frequently the two organisations are fighting side by side. 

In reflecting on Uncle’s social standing one can’t go past the fact that the attention that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members get today as activists and as torch bearers for community is only made possible by the battle for rights fought by previous generations and in those battles was Uncle Sam Watson. 

We are only recognised as advocates because we stand on the shoulders of those who were trailblazers before us to make our path easier. Uncle Sam Watson was one of those trailblazers. 

        –  Terry Stedman, Lawyer, Caxton Legal Centre 


It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of local Elder and community activist Sam Watson. On behalf of all staff and volunteers of Caxton Legal Centre, we send our deepest condolences to Sam’s family at this difficult time and to all other people affected by this loss.  

Sam devoted much of his life to advancing the interests of Aboriginal people. Through his courage and leadership, he brought to light the dark history that accompanied the invasion of Australia and the dispossession of Aboriginal people. 

For many years, Sam was an invaluable supporter of Caxton as we strove to strengthen our relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and agencies, and to demonstrate our leadership in engaging in the RAP process within the legal services sector. He was present in March 2018 when Caxton launched our Reconciliation Action Plan 2018–20.  

We proudly continue our pledge to working in unity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities to achieve social justice. Sam’s legacy will inspire us to continue to do more. 

       – Dan Rogers, President, Caxton Legal Centre