AIDA Pays Respects to Leading Indigenous Health Advocate Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue

04 Feb 2024
Media Release

It is with great sadness that the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) acknowledges formidable Indigenous health advocate Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue who passed away on Sunday morning. A true trailblazer, Dr Lowitja’s O’Donoghue’s tireless efforts paved the way for the advancement of healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.

Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, a Yankunytjatjara woman, dedicated her life to advocating for the rights and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians after becoming the first Aboriginal person to train as a nurse at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. As a patron of AIDA, she played an instrumental role in addressing the significant gaps in Indigenous healthcare and ensuring the representation of Indigenous people within the medical profession.

AIDA President Dr Simone Raye expressed the deep loss felt by the entire Indigenous health community: “Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue was a visionary leader who fought relentlessly to improve the health outcomes of our people” Dr Raye said.

“We express our sincere condolences to all who were touched by Dr O’Donoghue, including her nearest and dearest. Dr O’Donoghue’s immense contributions have left an indelible mark on the landscape of Indigenous health in Australia for the better. She will be sorely missed, but her legacy and spirit will continue to inspire us all. We can see further by standing on the shoulders of giants like Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue.”

Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue’s advocacy work extended far beyond the Lowitja Insitute and AIDA. She served as the Chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) from 1990 to 1996, where her strong leadership paved the way for significant advancements in Indigenous self-determination and social justice.

Throughout her distinguished career, Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue received numerous accolades, including the Australian of the Year award in 1984. Her unwavering commitment and determination inspired generations of Indigenous Australians to pursue careers in healthcare and strive for an equitable health system that addresses the challenges faced by their communities.

In honour of her legacy, AIDA commits to continuing Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue’s fight for better health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. AIDA will continue to strengthen its efforts to support and advocate for Indigenous doctors, ensure culturally safe healthcare practices, and drive policy reforms to improve Indigenous health across the country.

04 Feb 2024