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Vale Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue

At UCRH we are committed to ensuring that we walk lightly on this country, that we provide a strong education and cultural grounding for future health practitioners and we draw on the expertise of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues to lead education and research to address health inequities faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In doing this, we are and will continue to be inspired by the life, work and legacy of Dr O’Donoghue and echo the words shared by our colleagues at Sydney Health and Poche Centre for Indigenous Health on the news of her passing. Their tribute follows:

Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue was 91 years of age and spent much of her life advocating for change and actions to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Her fearless and determined contribution towards seeking justice, truth telling and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples inspired connections and collaborations across Australia, and globally.

A proud Yankunytjatjara woman, Dr O’Donoghue led change and determined ways of working that will continue to influence how we work within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, wellbeing, research and policy making.

Dr O’Donoghue consistently inspired Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through many facets of her work and her achievements, starting in her work as a nurse, then in her influential work in state, national and international circles.

She was the founding chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and played a key role in drafting the Native Title legislation arising from the High Court’s historic Mabo decision.

In 1984 Dr O’Donoghue was named Australian of the Year, she was the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person to address the United Nations General Assembly and the first Aboriginal woman to be appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Over the past 14 years she has worked tirelessly to guide, build and support The Lowitja Institute, holding multiple roles including patron, namesake and founding chair.

The Faculty of Medicine and Health and The Poche Centre of Indigenous Health express deep sympathy to Dr O’Donoghue’s family, close friends and colleagues.

We will continue to be inspired by the work and life of Dr O’Donoghue, as we commit our centre’s work to doing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing research that is courageous and seeks to challenge the status quo.

Our research will continue to advocate for improvements in policies and systems that can contribute to ensuring thriving in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples.

Image from Lowitja Institute