Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration 2021
Pat Anderson AO

1 June 2021

6.30 pm - 8.00 pm

Bonython Hall, University of Adelaide, North Tce, Adelaide

In June 2021, The Don Dunstan Foundation and Reconciliation SA presented the 14th Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration named in honour of Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue AC CBE DSG, and delivered by her friend Pat Anderson AO, an Alyawarre woman and powerful advocate for the improvement of Australia’s First Peoples’ health.

The Oration is held each year in Reconciliation Week and began in 2007 marking the 40th anniversary of the historic Australian Referendum in 1967. Subsequently each orator has been chosen by Dr O’Donoghue to reflect on issues effecting First Nations people of Australia. This year’s oration was a timely insight into the development of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and powerful call to action in support of the opportunities it offers our nation.

Ms Anderson has won numerous awards for her work in health and human rights serving as the Chairperson of the Remote Area Health Corporation, and the Chairperson of the Lowitja Institute. Ms Anderson is a forthright advocate for the advancement and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community and voice.

Importantly she was one of the participants in the First Nations National Constitutional Convention and an author of the Uluru statement. She chose as the title for her oration, Continuing the Story: Resolving the Issues that Won’t Go Away.

Ms Anderson reminded us that “the challenge is the same, and the story is the same” with respect to the enduring call for true representation of First Nations people and making this, through a voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, a permanent part of the life of our nation. Demonstrating this, Ms Anderson took us back to Dr O’Donoghue’s seminal National Press Club address in 1997, in which Dr O’Donoghue reflected on the progress since the 1967 Referendum and made a call for representation, echoing the campaign of William Cooper in the 1930s.

Informed by her roles as Co-Chair of the Referendum Council, the regional dialogues, and the First Nations National Constitutional Convention at Uluru – which resulted in the Uluru Statement from the Heart – Ms Anderson offered her unique perspective and powerful insights into the unchanging issues and the roadmap for resolving them: representation, treaty, and truth-telling.

Finally, Ms Anderson called upon Australians to take steps towards positive change by looking at what could be, and by recognising the accumulated knowledge of First Nations people in caring for community and country.

She identified a range of misunderstandings, and concerns within the broader community and was able to provide eloquent and persuasive perspectives to the 450 in attendance and joining the event remotely.

Associate Professor Simone Tur, Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous of Flinders University, welcoming the audience as MC for the night.

Karl Telfer welcoming the audience to Country.

Pat Anderson AO, delivering the Oration.

The Hon Rev Dr Lynn Arnold, AO, Director and Patron of the Don Dunstan Foundation, giving the Vote of Thanks.

Toni Minniecon, leading the audience in the communal singing of the Freedom Songs.


The Foundation would like to thank Reconciliation SA, The University of Adelaide and Flinders University for co-presenting the Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration, and to Origin Energy Australia, BHP and the Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation division within the Department of Premier and Cabinet, for supporting tonight’s event.


Event sponsors:

Oration Recording