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Lowitja O'Donoghue Oration

Each year the Don Dunstan Foundation presents the annual Lowitja O'Donoghue Oration named in honour of Dr O’Donoghue.

Lowitja O'Donoghue with Don Dunstan

Copies of previous speeches and recordings can be found on our Resources page.

Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue AC CBE DSG

Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue AC CBE DSG is an Aboriginal woman who has dedicated her life to improving the welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. She has been named Australian of the Year and was the inaugural chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. She was the first Aboriginal woman to be inducted into the Order of Australia and is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1999.

Our Speakers

  • 2019: David Rathman AM PSM FIML
    Fr Frank Brennan

    Save the date: 28 May 2019

    We are excited to announce that David Rathman will be delivering the 2019 Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration.

    David Rathman has extensive experience in broadcasting, Aboriginal community development, and Aboriginal education. He has held significant executive roles, including Director, Office of Aboriginal Affairs, Chief Executive of the SA Department of State Aboriginal Affairs and Executive Director, Aboriginal Education and Employment Services.

    David has been appointed to a wide range of committees ranging across a broad spectrum of issues and is involved in inter- and intra-government Aboriginal relations issues.

    He was awarded the Public Service Medal and was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), receiving his medal for services to Aboriginal Affairs, particularly for the delivery of SA Government services in the areas of education and community welfare.

    Booking details will be available soon.

  • 2018: Noel PearsonThe Uluru Statement from the Heart: One Year on
    Mr Noel Pearson

    Noel Pearson is one of Australia's most prominent Aboriginal lawyers and activists and this year delivered the Lowitja O'Donoghue Oration, one year on from the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

    He comes from the Guugu Yimidhirr community of Hope Vale on the South Eastern Cape York Peninsula. Mr Pearson is a lawyer, and Founder and Director of Strategy of the Cape York Partnership. Mr Pearson also co-founded the Cape York Land Council, and helped to establish Apunipima Health Council, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation and Indigenous Enterprise Partnerships. Mr Pearson served as a member of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and the Referendum Council.

    Image: South Australian Premier The Hon Stephen Marshall MP, Lowitja O'Donoghue, and Noel Pearson

    Watch Noel Pearson's Oration Link to external website

    Read Noel Pearson's Speech

    View Noel Pearson's Presentation

    Read the InDaily article 'Steven Marshall looks to lessons from Noel Pearson'

  • 2017: Fr Frank Brennan SJ AOOn Aboriginal Land: Seeking a Place at the Table
    Fr Frank Brennan

    This oration focused on strategies going forward following the Uluru Statement. In Frank's words 'The question is: how much should we attempt to put in the Constitution now and how much should we place outside the Constitution, or delay for constitutional inclusion until another day?'

    Watch Fr Frank Brennan's Oration Link to external website

    Read Fr Frank Brennan's Speech

  • 2016: The Hon the Rev'd Dr Lynn Arnold, AOLingua Nullius: A Retrospect and Prospect about Australia's First Languages

    In this oration, The Hon the Rev Dr Lynn Arnold AO explores the importance of language to aboriginal cultural identities. A former Premier of South Australia, Ambassador for Reconciliation SA and an ordained Minister in the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide, Reverend Arnold holds a PhD in Sociolinguistics from The University of Adelaide and chairs the Advisory Group at the University of South Australia's Research Centre on Languages and Culture. He has served as the CEO of Anglicare and of World Vision.

    Listen to The Rev'd Arnold's speech

  • 2015: Professor Marcia LangtonFreedom Songs: The Unfinished Business of the 1967 Referendum

    Professor Marcia Langton AM PhD Macq U, BA (Hons) ANU, FASSA is an anthropologist and geographer, and holds the Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne. She has produced a large body of knowledge in the areas of political and legal anthropology, Indigenous agreements and engagement with the minerals industry, and Indigenous culture and art. Her role in the Prime Minister and Cabinet sponsored Empowered Communities project, as member of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and the Forrest Review is a recent demonstration of Professor Langton’s academic reputation, policy commitment and impact, alongside her role as a prominent public intellectual (e.g. her 2012 Boyer lectures titled ‘The Quiet Revolution: Indigenous People and the Resources Boom’), and her influence and reputation in government and private sector circles. In the private sector Professor Langton serves on a number of boards, including as Chairperson of Guma ICRG JV Pty Ltd, as a director of Indigenous Construction Resource Group Pty Ltd, and as a Co-Chair of Cape York Partnership. Awarded B.A. (Hons) from the Australian National University and a PhD from Macquarie University. She is a Fellow of Trinity College, Melbourne, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia, and a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

    Watch Professor Langton's speech

    Read Professor Langton's speech

  • 2014: Professor Patrick DodsonRights, Recognition and Reconciliation

    Professor Patrick Dodson is a Yawuru man from Broome in Western Australia. He has dedicated his life work to being an advocate for constructive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people based on mutual respect, understanding and dialogue. He is a recipient of the Sydney International Peace prize. He was a Royal Commissioner into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, inaugural Chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and Co-Chair of the Expert Panel for Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians. Patrick lives in Broome with his family, where he is involved in social, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability through his roles as Chair of the Lingiari Foundation and Executive Chair of Nyamba Buru Yawuru. He is Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame Australia in Broome where he lectures in Spirituality and the Challenge of Reconciliation.

    Watch Professor Dodson's speech

  • 2013: Ms Olga HavnenHealing the Fault Lines: uniting politicians, bureaucrats and NGOs for improved outcomes in Aboriginal Health

    Ms Olga Havnen is the former head of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy at the Australian Red Cross. She has held a range of senior public and non-government sector roles in her long career in Indigenous Policy in the Northern Territory Department of the Chief Minister and Manager of Indigenous and International Programs at Fred Hollows Foundation. Ms Havnen has held a position on the Australian Council of Social Services' Board of Directors and represented the Australian Government at various international forums. She grew up in Tennant Creek and is the daughter of Aboriginal educator Peg Havnen. Ms Havnen currently holds the position of Chief Executive Officer of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin.

  • 2012: The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMGConstitutions, interventions and other melancholy takes

    Michael Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge when he retired from the High Court of Australia in 2009.He also served the Australian Conciliation & Arbitration Commission, the Australian Law Reform Commission, the Federal Court of Australia, the New South Wales Court of Appeal and, the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands. He was Acting Chief Justice of Australia twice. He has been appointed Honorary Visiting Professor by twelve universities and participates regularly in many local and international conferences and meetings. He has been awarded twenty honorary doctorates.

    Listen to Michael Kirby's speech

  • 2011: The Hon Paul KeatingLowitja O'Donoghue and Native Title: Leadership pointing the way to identity, inclusion and justice.

    Paul Keating entered Parliament in 1969, becoming Treasurer in the Hawke government in 1983. In this role he drove a range of financial and economic reforms which internationalised the Australian economy and underpinned more than twenty years of Australia’s continuous growth and prosperity. In December 1991 he became Prime Minister and led the ALP to an historic fifth term of government in March 1993. As Prime Minister he continued his progressive reform program which included the introduction of compulsory national superannuation to redress national savings and to provide more adequate retirement incomes. The Keating government implemented the historic Native Title legislation to facilitate the return of land to indigenous Australians and raised proposals for constitutional reform to have Australia become a republic. Paul Keating maintains his interest in contemporary national and international politics, economics and foreign affairs and contributes occasionally to the public debate.

    Listen to Paul Keating's speech

  • 2010: Mr Ray Martin AMWalking together on the Journey of Healing

    Ray Martin is an eloquent and truly inspiring journalist and orator who brought a unique and challenging perspective to the journey of healing on indigenous issue in Australia, providing hard facts and anecdotes to motivate us all to be individually committed to real change. Ray Martin began his distinguished career as a journalist with the ABC in 1965. He is a former presenter of A Current Affair on Nine and Chairman of the Fred Hollows Foundation. Ray is deeply involved in charities concerned with Aboriginal disadvantage and is in this third term as a Community Member on the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

    Listen to Ray Martin's speech

  • 2009: Dr Jackie Huggins AM and The Hon Fred Chaney AOBringing black and white Australians together

    Dr Jackie Huggins AM and The Hon Fred Chaney AO

  • 2008: The Rev Tim CostelloThe Journey is Healing: How we go forward after 'Sorry'

    The Rev Tim Costello

    Listen to Tim Costello's speech

  • 2007: Dr Lowitja O'DonoghueBlack and White Together, We Shall Overcome, Some Day

Don Dunstan Foundation

Level 8, 115 Grenfell St
SA 5005 Australia


Phone: +61 8 8313 3364
ABN: 14 614 345 149

Registered Charity

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