Australian Biography: Lowitja O'Donoghue

Australian Biography: Lowitja O'Donoghue
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A proud Yankunytjatjara woman,Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue AC CBE DSG (1932–2024) was born in remote north-western South Australia (APY Lands).

She was removed from her mother at age two, and would not see her again for another 33 years.  

After a long struggle to win admission to a training hospital, Lois became the first Aboriginal nurse in South Australia.

In 1976, she was the first Aboriginal woman to be awarded an Order of Australia. In 1983 she was honoured with a CBE and in 1984 she was made Australian of the Year.

In 1990 she became the founding chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. Two years later, she was the first Aboriginal person to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York, when she attended the launch of the International Year for the World’s Indigenous People.

She was interviewed for Film Australia's Australian Biography series in 1994. Read a transcript of the complete interview.

Among her many other achievements and honours, Dr O'Donoghue was named Australian of the Year (1984), Australian National Living Treasure (1998) and received the NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award (2009). 

The Lowitja Institute, a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health research institute, was named in her honour.