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Author Doris Pilkington Garimara dies
Doris Pilkington Garimara in 2006. Picture: The West Australian

Doris Pilkington Garimara, author of Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence and reconciliation campaigner, has died aged 76 in Perth.

She had been diagnosed with cancer last year and is reported to have died surrounded by family on Thursday.

Ms Pilkington Garimara was born at Balfour Downs Station near Jigalong in 1937 and her life's work centred on maintaining the dignity and stories of her community.

Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence, published in 1996, tells the story of Ms Pilkington Garimara's mother. Her mother, Molly Craig, escaped from the Moore River Native Settlement near Perth after she was forcibly removed from her family in the 1930s as part of the Stolen Generation policy.

Molly, her sister Daisy and cousin Gracie walked for more than nine weeks and more than 2000km back to Jigalong to be reunited with their family.

The book was made into the acclaimed film Rabbit Proof Fence and drew international attention to Australia's shameful Stolen Generation period.

Molly died in 2004, believed aged 84.

Ms Pilkington Garimara said of her: “Mum's legacy is the calming influence and quiet dignity of the desert women, and the stolen generations story. She looked you straight in the eye.”

Daisy Kadibil and Molly Kelly both believed to be in their 80s in this 2002 photograph, with Molly's daughter DorisDaisy and Molly live a quiet life in their community at Jigalong. File picture: The West Australian

Ms Pilkington Garimara was also removed from her family as a child.

Her other literary works include Caprice: A Stockman’s Daughter, for which she won the 1990 David Unaipon Award, Under the Wintamarra Tree and Home to Mother, a children’s version of Molly's walk from Moore River to Jigalong.

Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence has been translated into 11 languages worldwide.

Doris Pilkington Garimara wrote Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence.

In 2006, the writer was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the general division for her services to the arts and indigenous literature.

But she said at the time the accolade would never stop her speaking out about what she saw as the Government's failure to make good for the hurt and neglect suffered by the stolen generation.

“They should accept our history and help us heal our people,” she said in 2006.

“They are suffering and they can no longer go on. The pain and hurt they feel is now being passed on to another generation.”

In 2008, Ms Pilkington Garimara received the $50,000 Red Ochre Award. The award pays tribute to artists who have made an outstanding, lifelong contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts at home and internationally.

The West Australian

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