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Lionel  Fogarty

A Murri man, Lionel is a leading spokesman for Indigenous rights in Australia, particularly deaths in custody following the death of his brother, Daniel Yock, in 1993. His poetry expresses the need for innovation and urgency. In doing so, it is sometimes surreal, sometimes confronting and includes large amounts of Bandjalang dialect and vernacular.

Fogarty has been involved with The Red Room Company, participating in Unlocked, a program for inmates in New South Wales correctional centres, as well its creative projects including Clubs & Societies and The Poet's Life Works.

Lionel Fogarty was born on Wakka Wakka land at Barambah, now known as Cherbourg Aboriginal Reserve near Murgon, Queensland. His traditional background is the Yoogum and Kudjela tribes and he has relations from the Goomba tribe.

After being educated to ninth grade at Murgon High school, he worked at a variety of local casual jobs, went ringbarking, worked on a railway gang, and came to Brisbane when he was sixteen.

In the early 1970s Fogarty became actively involved in Aboriginal politics after a realisation of the injustices experienced while growing up on the Reserve. His involvement in the political struggles of the Aboriginal people has been through various organisations including the Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Housing Service, Black Resource Centre, Black Community School and Murrie Coo-ee. As a legal and political activist, and as a community leader, his work has also been directed towards the reality of Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Fogarty has travelled widely throughout Australia and the USA as an ambassador for Murri culture and Aboriginal causes. In 1976 he travelled to the USA to address a meeting of the American Indian Movement of the Second International Indian Treaty Council in South Dakota. Attending this forum furthered his commitment to fight injustice and gave him a broader perspective of international struggles. In 1993, in the International Year of the World's Indigenous People, he undertook an extensive reading tour through Europe.

Lionel Fogarty began writing poetry out of a commitment to the Aboriginal cause, a belief that land rights is the basis of Aboriginal people's hope for a future not based on racism and oppression, and as a way of expressing his Murri beliefs and continuing to pass on his own knowledge and experience.