Josie Appo leaves legacy of love after death
A note to our readers, this story contains images of an Aboriginal elder who has passed away.
FAMILY and friends of respected Aboriginal elder Josephine Moreton Appo from Currumbin who died last month say she has left a lasting legacy of love and support for her people.
More than 300 hundred mourners attended the funeral service for Josie, or Aunty Josie as she was affectionately known, at St Carthages Anglican Church on August 2 following her death on July 28 at 73-years-of age.
The mother of eight's funeral procession was given a police escort to Minjungbul Museum where her life was celebrated with Aboriginal dancing and a community lunch.
Tweed-Byron police Aboriginal community liaison officer Beck Couch said police only provided such an honour for the most respected of community figures.
"She was an inspirational and strong community leader," Ms Couch said.
Aunty Josie who was born in Bundaberg, had both an Aboriginal and South Sea Islander heritage, and a deep commitment to the welfare of her people.
She helped establish the Krurungal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Welfare Corporation, of which she was vice president and in which she remained active for 25 years.
The corporation was heavily involved in a range of welfare inititiatives including generating job opportunities for indigineous people at Gold Coast City Council, Telstra and in the public service.
Friend of 42 years Pat Leavy, who was also the first president of Krurungal, said: "For all the jobs out their today (for Aboriginal people) they can thank people like Aunty Josie."
Pat said Josie was the only local representative to sit on an Aboriginal elders board in Brisbane which helped lobby and advise the Queensland Government on decisions made on indigenous education, housing and welfare issues.
Josie was often the first port of call for police if any issues emerged in the local indidgenous community.
"No one knows half the things she's done (for others)," Pat said.
"I'm proud to call her my friend."
Josie was a mentor to many offering cultural guidance as well as life advice.
There was also a fun side to Josie on display at family and community events.
A talented performer, she never missed an opportunity to sing and dance and loved a karaoke session.
Josie was often the first person at the microphone to croon her favourite country tunes from the likes of Charlie Pride and Johnny Cash.
Josie walked the talk when it came to her encouragement of young people to get an education.
She left school at 15 years of age, but returned to TAFE as a mature age student to learn literacy and numeracy.
It resulted in her and her classmates writing a book of essays called Wajehla Dubay (Woman Speaking).
In the book Josie wrote of her Island Home which describes how her descendants from the Islands ended up in Australia.
Aunt Josie also embraced technology, taking TAFE classes to learn computing.
Friend of 12 years Maria Tinschert said Josie was a natural when it came to caring for people from all walks of life.
Josie had a strong Christian faith that gave her a sense of peace and calm in the final weeks of her life.
"I'm ready. I know where I'm going," she told friends and family."
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