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Lyall is a Gamilaroi man from Moree, NSW. He arrived in Sydney in 1967 and met his wife Jenny Coe in 1972. They have seven children and many grandchildren.
In 1965, Lyall was one of six local men who joined Charlie Perkins Freedom Ride in Moree to protest the exclusion of Aboriginal people from the pools. In 1972, he led a workers’ strike at Wee Waa to protest against the $1 per hour wages.
Lyall was a founding member of the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Medical Service and the Aboriginal Housing Company. He also served in many Aboriginal organisations, including The Black Theatre, Aboriginal Children’s service, The Redfern All Blacks, and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service.