Pastor Sir Douglas & Lady Gladys Nicholls Print Page Print this page

12-April-2019 (John Huth)
12-April-2019 (John Huth)

Photographs supplied by Graeme Saunders / John Huth

The sculpture commemorate Sir Douglas and Lady Nicholls. In the bluestone paving below the statue,  Ngarra Murray’s etching incorporates the totems Bigarrumdja the Emu and Waa the Crow with diamond-shaped markings. These traditional symbols mark her great-grandparents’ connection to country. 

Sir Douglas Nicholls (1906 -1988) was the pastor of Australia’s first Aboriginal Church of Christ, in Fitzroy, Melbourne, and in 1957 became a field officer for the Aboriginal Advancement League. His commitment to Indigenous welfare made him a natural representative for Aboriginal people, and he was awarded a MBE for his efforts in 1957.  

He worked as a lay preacher at the Gore Street Mission Centre from 1935, but he really began working with disadvantaged Aboriginal people in the early 1940s through the Aboriginal Advancement League. In 1968, he was awarded an OBE for his work and became a member of the new Victorian Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. In 1972, he was the first Aboriginal person to be knighted, and four years later he became the governor of South Australia.

Like her husband, Gladys Nicholls (1906 -1981) was born at Cummeragunga Aboriginal station in New South Wales. After the death of her first husband, Howard Nicholls, in 1942, Gladys married his brother Doug. She was committed to working towards the welfare of the underprivileged, as well as for the rights of women. Gladys was a charity worker and fundraiser, and among other achievements became secretary of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Council and the Victorian state president in the 1970s.

Together the Nicholls were prominent campaigners for Indigenous rights and justice, and it is the first memorial sculpture in Melbourne dedicated to Aboriginal leaders.

Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls played an instrumental part in the 1967 referendum movement in providing comfort and assistance to many people who were homeless, in need of help or who were disenfranchised.




Address:Spring Street, Parliament Gardens, East Melbourne, 3002
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.810357
Long: 144.973555
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:People
Artist:Louis Laumen (sculptor) Ngarra Murray (etching artwork)


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 9th December, 2007
Source: MA, ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
Proudly sponsored by UBC Web Design