This website contains images of people who have passed away.

John Russel Brown

Enduring power of commitment, compassion and community service. 


Passion for preserving history. 

 A proud Wiradjuri and Dja Dja Wurrung man, Uncle John Brown is a beloved member of his community. His life story is anchored in cultural pride, community service, and a steadfast commitment to positive change. Born in 1953 to Margaret Brown (nee McGuinness) and Jackie Brown in Melbourne, Uncle John grew up in a very politically active family, living in the politically charged atmosphere of Fitzroy. His activist Uncles John, Bruce, Joe, and Denny played a pivotal role in shaping him and his family’s passion for positive change and laid the foundations for Uncle John’s lifelong dedication to Aboriginal affairs, social justice, and community empowerment. For over a decade, Uncle John has worked as an Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer (ACLO) with the Victoria Police.

As an ACLO, he liaises between the Victorian Aboriginal community and Victoria Police as a community representative within the organisation. With community consultation, he provides advice to senior police members on local Aboriginal matters and encourages Aboriginal communities to engage with police members to resolve issues. 

In his role, he helps other members of the police force become culturally conscious and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal people and communities. He acts as a contact point for community members who want support to engage with police and provides training and education to the police. Ultimately, he has been a bridge between the Aboriginal community and law enforcement, contributing to improved safety outcomes.  

Uncle John was recently the recipient of the Victoria Police Service Medal. The Service Medal is awarded in recognition of the sustained diligent and ethical service of employees to Victoria Police by the Chief Commissioner. This medal is earned through honest hard work, dedication to duty and professionalism during an employee’s career. The recognition is a significant acknowledgement of commitment and service with the Victoria Police and the wider Victorian community.  

Uncle John's impact extends beyond law enforcement. He is also a talented photographer. He captures the essence of old Fitzroy and preserves history through his lens. His exhibition at the Fitzroy Library, 'Fitzroy through the Decades, from the collection of Uncle John Brown’ captures the captivating stories of Fitzroy’s past. The exhibition documents the cultural richness of Fitzroy, with images of community celebrations, festivals, and gatherings capturing the spirit of togetherness. Uncle John's photography transports viewers to moments of joy, solidarity, and cultural pride that define the essence of Fitzroy and provides a unique opportunity for reflection, allowing both current and future generations to connect with the roots of Fitzroy.   

In his personal life, Uncle John is respected for his generosity and kindness. A devoted family man, he takes immense pride in his roles as a father and grandfather. He has served on the Aboriginal Community Elders Services (ACES) Board for 16 years, demonstrating his commitment to community service. His leadership roles within ACES, including Chairperson and Secretary, underline his dedication to supporting and uplifting the Aboriginal community.  

The Koorie Basketball Carnivals were coordinated by Uncle John and his wife Pam for over 15 years. They would personally cover costs for those who cannot afford to participate otherwise, demonstrating Uncle John’s belief in providing equal opportunities and fostering a sense of community through sports. He continues to play volleyball twice a week since he left school and was awarded the ‘John Brown trophy’, named in his honour, alongside winning best player for the season and in the finals. He also held a 20-year presidency at the Thornbury Basketball Club.  

Uncle John gave extensive service in the Australian Army, where he reached the rank of Sergeant. He has also held diverse roles within the Aboriginal community. These include roles at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, Yappera Children’s Services, the Dandenong and District Aboriginal Co-operative Limited and the then-Department of Education and Training. Uncle John also serves on advisory panels related to Koorie education in universities and TAFEs, demonstrating his commitment to nurturing the educational growth of his community.  

Uncle John's passion for preserving history remains steadfast. He is often seen at NAIDOC and other community events with his camera in hand. Uncle John’s life is a testament to the enduring power of commitment, compassion, and community service. His journey, shaped by a legacy of activism and fuelled by an unwavering dedication to positive change, serves as an inspiration to all who strive for a better and more inclusive society. Uncle John's impact on the Victorian Aboriginal community, and beyond, echoes through the generations. He continues to leave a positive mark on Victorian history.