Lifelong leader in human rights and social justice for Indigenous Australians, Pat Anderson AO has been awarded NAIDOC's highly regarded, Lifetime Achievement Award.
Anderson was raised in Parap Camp in Darwin in the Northern Territory, and in the 1960s to travelled and worked in the UK, the Netherlands and Israel. When she returned to Australia in the 1980s, she became one of the first Aboriginal women to graduate from the University of Western Australia, with a degree majoring in literature.
In 2015, the Alyawarre woman was featured in Australia’s top 100 most influential women list. Her leadership and commitment to justice for Indigenous peoples continues to recognised by so many Australians.
Anderson’s service to the Indigenous community extends to many areas including, public policy, Indigenous health, education and research.
Recently, Anderson worked tirelessly with the Referendum Council as the Co-Chair, where she and other leaders and experts worked with community and Government to formally recognise First Australians in the Australian constitution.
Her leadership and contribution lead her as a key spokesperson at the Uluru National Convention in 2017. This conference held over 250 delegates and resulted in a formal decision — the Uluru Statement of the Heart, a declaration to the Government requesting a Parliamentary First Nations' voice.
This was a moment in history which changed the future of Indigenous Australians, importantly their social and political position in Australian society. Although the decision was rejected by Prime Minister Turnbull, Indigenous leaders like Anderson continue to voice Indigenous perspectives and concerns to the wider Australian community.
Anderson is also the Chair of Lowitja Foundation, an organisation dedicated to Indigenous health research.
Previously, she was the Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the Chief Executive Officer of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin and the Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT).
Anderson has worked hard to ensure Indigenous perspectives and voices are included in Australian research. Some of Anderson's own national reports include; the landmark Bringing Them Home Report, which focused on the national inquiry into the removal of Aboriginal children from their families and The Little Sacred Report, an insight into the abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.
With a nation that continues to deny the self-determination of Indigenous people, leaders like Anderson and the important work she does is the much needed light in an often rather dark tunnel. Being not only a woman working in these fields, but a strong Black woman, Anderson has had two glass ceilings to smash.
In 2014, Pat Anderson was appointed the Order of Australia (AO) for her efforts and service to Indigenous social justice, and in 2016, she was recognised by the Australian Human Rights Commission and awarded the Human Rights Medal for her continued commitment to social justice.
It is strong intelligent women like Pat Anderson, whose lifelong commitments, allow Indigenous people freedom and self-determination.
The National NAIDOC Awards 2018 broadcasts live on NITV (Ch. 34), Friday 13 July at 7.30pm and will be available On Demand after broadcast.
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