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Roughsey, Elsie (Labumore) (1923 - 2000)

Mornington Island, Queensland, Australia
Aboriginal community worker, Aboriginal health worker, Educator and Writer


Elsie Roughsey (Labumore), of Lardil descent, was born on Mornington Island in Queensland. She was taken from her parents and placed in the local mission school at the age of eight. She stayed there until World War Two, not knowing that her own brother and sister were living in the same dormitory. When the missionaries were evacuated during the war, she returned to her family and lived in the bush learning Lardil customs.

In 1946 Elsie married Dick Roughsey, then a stockman but later an artist and author. She worked as a nursing aide, teacher's assistant and voluntary community worker on Mornington Island.

In 1984 she published her autobiography, which became a best seller, and her visits to southern capitals to promote it attracted widespread media interest. She was an authority on the local history of Mornington Island and a famed maker of cottonwood dolls.

Sources used to compile this entry: Horton, David (ed.). The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Vol. 2, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1994, p. 957; Death date provide in Trove.

Leonarda Kovacic and Barbara Lemon

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