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Tribute to Lowitja O'Donoghue

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Side profile image of Dr Lowitja O'Dongohue wrapped in the Aboriginal Flag

Reflecting on Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue's legacy, Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO said: "In my life, as is true for countless others, Lowitja O’Donoghue has been a towering figure of social justice, committed to guaranteeing our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights are recognised and responded to by Australia. She will be remembered always as a remarkable woman who lived across a sweeping history and changing times, tirelessly working with conviction, great integrity and dignity to pursue our rights.

"Her qualities as a leader are boundless. She had to grapple with her own pain, as a child stolen from her peoples, while simultaneously balancing the needs of all our peoples and working with leaders across the political spectrum to advance our rights, rectify the nation’s past injustices and move toward a future where our peoples could heal and enjoy the equality and respect, we deserve. What has left the greatest impression, for me, was how she opened the space of decision-making and extended warmth and encouragement and nurtured so many young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices. Early in my working life, when she was Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, I witnessed how she validated the importance of our peoples lived experience and made known that we had a right to our voices, a right to be heard. She made me realise that the issues I saw and felt in my community were of national significance. For me, like so many others, she has given us the language of justice and political rights and the confidence to speak out and pursue action and results.

"Her legacy as a leader, teacher, advocate and great thinker will live on for us all."