Shirley Smith ('Mum Shirl')

(1921–1998)
Shirley Smith was born in Cowra, New South Wales. She was not able to go to an ordinary school because she suffered from epilepsy and was taught at home by her grandfather.

Shirley began to visit Indigenous people in prison when one of her brothers was there and found other people also enjoyed having someone to talk to. She also went to court sometimes to help people who had been charged with a crime. People began to call her 'Mum Shirl'. Some of her time was spent finding homes for children whose parents could not look after them or helping children to find their own parents again.

With some other people, she set up the Aboriginal Medical Service and the Aboriginal Legal Service to give proper service to Indigenous people who needed it. Shirley could not read or write, but could speak 16 different Aboriginal languages.

Her work was commemorated with an Order of Australia and an Order of the British Empire.