Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy, said:
“ACF’s staff, board and council are saddened to learn of the passing of ACF’s former President, John Halden Wootten, who was known almost universally as Hal.
“Hal was born on Bundjalung country at Tweed Heads in December 1922. He was ACF’s President from 1985 to 1989.
“He was known for having a brilliant legal mind and was a NSW Supreme Court Justice and founding Dean of the UNSW Law School.
“Hal Wootten was strongly committed to Indigenous rights and recognition, fair and open processes and equal access to justice.
“He helped set up the first Aboriginal Legal Service in Australia and was a member of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
“As ACF’s President in the 1980s he championed the idea that conservation could no longer be about merely protecting particular areas or species, but must address systemic injustice and existential threats, including nuclear power and weapons.
“Hal was a keen bushwalker and camper who was deeply moved by nature.
“ACF staff from the time recall Hal pulling on his bushwalking boots for seriously challenging hikes – including one in the Daintree in which the party of four got lost and saturated, yet Hal never complained and was always prepared to do the hard yards.
“He was as comfortable in the bush as he was in his chambers.
“ACF is grateful to Hal for his valuable contribution to our story and the wider Australian story.
“We extend our deepest sympathy to Hal Wootten’s family and community of friends.”