Australian Biography: Lois O'Donoghue


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1994, 26 Minutes

Aboriginal leader and founding chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Lois O’Donoghue has worked tirelessly for her people.

Lois O’Donoghue was born at Indulkana in the remote north-west of South Australia in 1932, a time when the situation for Aboriginal people could not have been more desperate. Lois never knew her white father. At the age of two she was taken away from her mother, who she was not to see for another 33 years.

Her quest to be reunited with her mother is central to her story.  

After a long struggle to win admission to a training hospital, Lois became the first black nurse in South Australia. Later, she became more involved in Aboriginal rights and worked tirelessly for her people. In 1976, Lois 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 March 1990 Lois became the founding chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

Since this Australian Biography interview, she has changed her name back to the one originally given her - Lowitja.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. © National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Free Teachers’ Notes - Download here

NB The Australian Biography series (1-11) are only available for sale within the territories of Australia and New Zealand.


Producer/Director/Writer: Frank Heimans

Interviewer: Robin Hughes

Year: 1994

Running Time: 26 Minutes

Classification: PG. Consumer advice: Adult themes.

Curriculum Links: Australian History, Business Studies, Civics and Citizenship, English, Indigenous Studies, Justice Studies, SOSE.  Level: Secondary, Tertiary.

SKU 199300805
Brand Film Australia

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