Birri Gubba Gungalu and Murri man, Tiga Bayles, 62, has passed away. Only rarely do I write about the passing of anyone – each day millions of us pass from this world, our souls roll over. However Tiga Bayles was one of those individuals whose great works have left behind a legacy of improved lives and that will touch generations unborn. He was a social justice stalwart who translated campaigns into outcomes.
To his family, there are never any words for the loss of a loved one but the respect that Tiga garnered will warm them in their remaining days. Tiga’s lifelong deeds improved the lives of so many, particularly for some of our most vulnerable. He not only delivered in the media where he dedicated much of his life, but in education, with the Murri school Acacia Ridge and with the young people he mentored. I will always remember one conversation we shared about troubled youth and how we could never give up on even the most troubled. They are who need us most. Like so many others he was pained by the loss of young people to suicide.
He saw that it mattered that those immediate to us must be assisted while the big picture message was being fought for. Tiga was solid in the doing of so much for others – he was devoted to not only his family but to the youth that crossed his path.
What we do on this earth matters. Our days are however many they are. For all of us the time comes when our bodies fall over and ‘we walk on’. While in our mortal coils it is our deeds that speak. His deeds will continue to ‘speak’ long after his departure. There is no greater legacy than to improve the lot of others. Because of his great deeds many have lived in the light instead of the dark, they have lived solid instead of fractured. Generations unborn, whether they will know of him or not, shall benefit from his works. Proud memories of him will echo in the hearts and minds of many for time to come.
His voice was broadcast throughout the continent by Brisbane Indigenous Media Association (BIMA) and was known to most First Nations peoples. Tiga was committed to First Nations voices driving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander radio. He believed in the multitude of voices. He was a land rights campaigner and the social justice struggle was always within proximity.
He was many things to many people. I could list his many campaigns and successes but instead I will leave you with this, that what I loved about him best was his impassioned commitment to humanity at all times while at the same time he was without peer as a family person, an incredible father to eight girls and devoted to his sixteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren and all the others he took in as his children. I never forget his pride one day when he introduced me to one of his granddaughters. He knew his time on this earth was coming to its close but his mind’s eye looked to the future.
Kamilaroi man Dr Marcus Woloombi Waters once said to me, “I was lost as a 14 year old. Had nowhere to turn to and then Uncle Tiga appeared and had a guiding hand.”
That guiding hand was there for many.