Archives and Special Collections: Professor Lowitja O'Donoghue

Lowitja O'Donoghue Collection

Access Conditions

Location: City West Campus - Jeffrey Smart Building, Level 4

Loan: Not for loan

Access & Further Information: Ask the Library

Search: Lowitja O'Donoghue Collection in the UniSA Library Archives

Collection Overview

The Lowitja O'Donoghue Collection includes documents and reports related to reconciliation and Native Title, books, photographs, awards and realia, including honorary doctorate gowns and hats and memorabilia from the Sydney 2000 Olympics.


Professor Lowitja (Lois) O'Donoghue is a member of the Yankunjatjara people of northwest South Australia. Throughout her life she has been an advocate for indigenous rights and has worked for improving the health and welfare of indigenous Australians. In 1962 O'Donoghue took on a role with the State Government as an Aboriginal Liaison Officer and later became a Welfare Officer. In 1967 she moved into the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs where she became the Director in 1975, making her the first indigenous person to be in charge of an Australian government department.

In 1990 Professor O'Donoghue was appointed as the inaugural chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). In 1992 she was the first indigenous Australian to address the United Nations General Assembly during the launch of the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Peoples.

Professor O'Donoghue has received seven honorary doctorates and fellowships from various Australian educational institutions.

In 1976 she was the first indigenous woman to be inducted into the Order of Australia. In 1984 she was awarded Australian of the Year in recognition of her work to improve indigenous welfare. She was inducted into the Olympic Order in 2000. In 2005 she received a Papal Award, Dame of the Order of St Gregory the Great.

She is currently a patron of The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre and The Lowitja Institute, which is named in her honour.

In the Library Collection


Further info

National Library of Australia

Biography and resource list

Search TROVE

State Library of South Australia

Search the catalogue

National Film and Sound Archive

Search the collection

The Australian Womens Register

Biography and resource list

The Lowitja Institute

Australia's National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research


Lowitja O'Donoghue