People

Order of Australia: Aboriginal winners

A surprising number of Aboriginal men and women have been awarded for their achievements. But who are they, and what have they been recognised for?

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Note: This page contains names of Aboriginal people who have passed.

The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established in 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, to recognise Australians for achievement or service.

Time and again I've found Aboriginal Order of Australia winners I didn't know had received that recognition. Help me extend this list of recipients! I am grateful to the many subscribers who have already sent me their contributions.

You can sort tables by clicking on column headings.

Companion of the Order (AC)

PersonNationYearReceived for...
Evonne Fay Goolagong Cawley, AO MBEWiradjuri2018Services to tennis and her work as a role model and advocate for young Aboriginal people.
Ida Lessing Faith BandlerSouth Sea Islanders2009Distinguished service to the community through the advancement of human rights and social justice, and by raising public awareness and understanding of the cultural heritage of South Seas Islanders, and to women's issues.
Lowitja Lois O'Donoghue SmartYunkunytjatjara1999Fierce determination to improve the lives of Australia’s Indigenous peoples.
Mandawuy Djarrtjuntjun YunupinguYolngu2014Eminent service to the performing arts as a musician and songwriter, to the advancement of education and social justice for Aboriginal people, and as an advocate for cultural exchange and understanding.

Officer of the Order (AO)

PersonNationYearReceived for...
Alice Dorothy (Alitya) Rigney, PSM [1]Narungga, Kaurna2018Distinguished service to education, particularly through providing opportunities for youth, and to the promotion and protection of Aboriginal language, culture and heritage.
Banduk Mamburra MarikaYolngu2019Distinguished service to the visual arts, particularly to Aboriginal printmaking and bark painting, and through cultural advisory roles.
Charles "Charlie" Nelson PerkinsArrernte, Kalkadoon1987Service to Aboriginal welfare.
Christian Andrew William Bumbarra ThompsonBidjara2018Distinguished service to the visual arts as a sculptor, photographer, video and performance artist, and as a role model for young Aboriginal artists.
Deborah Joy CheethamYorta Yorta2014Distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Aboriginal artists, and to innovation in performance.
Ernestine Bonita MaboSouth Sea Islander2013Distinguished service to the Aboriginal community and to human rights as an advocate for the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander peoples.
Evelyn Ruth ScottWarrgamay, Ni-Vanuatu2003Service to the community through leadership in the area of reconciliation, as an advocate for the empowerment of Aboriginal women, and as an instrumental figure in the establishment of legal, housing, employment and medical services for Aboriginal communities.
Evonne Fay Cawley, MBEWiradjuri1982Services to the sport of tennis.
Geraldine "Aunty Gerry" Rose BriggsYorta Yorta1991Service to the community, particularly the Aboriginal community.
Professor Ian Phillip AndersonPalawa (Pyemairrenner?)2017For distinguished service to the Aboriginal community, particularly in the areas of health equality, aged care and education, as an academic, researcher and medical practitioner, to policy reform, and as a role model.
Ida Lessing Faith BandlerSouth Sea Islanders1984Service to Aboriginal welfare.
James Oswald "Jimmy" LittleYorta Yorta2004Service to the entertainment industry as a singer, recording artist and songwriter and to the community through reconciliation and as an ambassador for Aboriginal culture.
Jill GallagherGunditjmara2013Distinguished service to the Aboriginal community of Victoria, through leadership in the area of health and contributions to cultural, welfare and professional organisations.
Joan Agnes VickeryGunditjmara2005Service to the Aboriginal community as a leader in the development of culturally sensitive health care initiatives, particularly in the area of diabetes treatment and management.
June OscarBunuba2013Distinguished service to the Aboriginal community of Western Australia, particularly through health and social welfare programs.
Dr Lewis William O'BrienKaurna2014Distinguished service to the Aboriginal community of South Australia as an elder and educator, and to the promotion and protection of Aboriginal culture and heritage.
Lofty Bardayal NadjamerrekMok/Kunwinjku2004Service to the preservation of Aboriginal culture as a senior traditional man and significant artist whose work documents the relationship of the land and its ancestral past via the Mimi spirits of rock art.
Margaret Valadian, MBEunknown1986Service to the community, particularly in the field of Aboriginal education and culture.
Marjorie Anne TrippNgarrindjeri2014Distinguished service to the Aboriginal community through the promotion of improved aged care and health outcomes and recognition of Aboriginal people in the armed forces. (She was the was the first Aboriginal woman to join the Women's Royal Australian Navy.)
Muriel Pauline Bamblett, AMYorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung2019Distinguished service to the Aboriginal community of Victoria as an advocate for the self-determination and cultural rights of children.
Nyunggai Warren Stephen MundineBundjalung, Gumbaynggirr, Yuin2016For long and outstanding service to the community and local government.
Dr Patricia "Pat" Anne Davis-Hurst AMWoromi2006Service to the community through promoting awareness of reconciliation, Aboriginal culture and history, and land rights; and to advising, assisting and mentoring Aboriginal people.
Patricia "Pat" Audrey AndersonAlyawarre2014Distinguished service to the Aboriginal community as a social justice advocate, particularly through promoting improved health, educational and protection outcomes for children.
Dr Patricia "Patsy" Ellen CameronLetteremairrener2017For distinguished service to the Aboriginal community of Tasmania through the promotion of educational participation and achievement, and to the preservation of culture, custodianship and traditional knowledge.
Rhoda Ann RobertsBundjalung2016Distinguished service to the performing arts through a range of leadership and advocacy roles in the development, promotion and presentation of contemporary Aboriginal culture.
Shelley ReysDjiribul2012Distinguished service to the Aboriginal community, to reconciliation and social inclusion, and as an advocate for improved educational, health and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people.
Dr Thomas Edwin CalmaKungarakan2012Distinguished service to the Aboriginal community as an advocate for human rights and social justice, through contributions to government policy and reform, and to cross cultural understanding.

Member of the Order (AM)

PersonNationYearReceived for...
Anne MartinYuin2019Significant service to the Aboriginal community, and to higher education.
Annette Mureeka StokesWongutha, Mulba-Ngad2018For significant service to Aboriginal health, to medical research, and to the communities of the Goldfields in Western Australia.
Archibald "Archie" William RoachGunditjmara, Bundjalung2015Significant service to the performing arts as a singer, song-writer and guitarist, and to the community as a spokesman for social justice.
Dr Archie BartonPitjantjatjara1990Recognition of service to Aboriginal welfare and land rights.
Barbara TjikatuAnangu2006Service to the Aboriginal community of the Northern Territory as an Anangu Elder, and in the preservation and management of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Carolyn Maria BriggsBoonwurrung2019Significant service to the Aboriginal community.
Charles Gordon Lawrence AgiusNarungga1978Service to Aboriginal welfare.
Darryl Charles WrightDunghutti2018Significant service to the Aboriginal community of New South Wales, particularly in the areas of health and welfare, and to sport.
David Gulpilil Ridjimararil DalaithnguYolngu1987Service to the arts through the interpretation of Aboriginal culture.
Deborah Jane MailmanKalkadoon, Bidjara2017Significant service to the performing arts as an actor, as a role model for Aboriginal performers, and to the community.
Djambawa Miniyawainy MarawiliYolngu2010Service to the arts as a sculptor and painter, to the preservation of Aboriginal culture, to arts administration and as a mentor of emerging artists.
Dr Donna Marie OdegaardLarrakia2016Significant service to Aboriginal cultural heritage through roles with broadcast media organisations, to education and training, and to reconciliation.
Dorothy "Dot" Betsy PetersYarra Yarra2019Significant service to the Aboriginal community of Victoria.
Dulcie Gladys Flower, OAMMeriam (Torres Strait Islander)2019Work on the 1967 Referendum Campaign, her role in the establishment of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, and her work as a nurse.
Eric John LawWakka Wakka2018Significant service to the Aboriginal community of western Queensland, and to education and housing initiatives.
Evelyn Doreen FeslGubbi Gubbi, Gangulu1988Service to the development of multi-culturalism in Australia and to the preservation of Aboriginal culture and language.
Faith ThomasAdnyamathanha2019Significant service to women's cricket, and to the Aboriginal community.
Harold Blairunknown1976Service to the arts as an Aboriginal tenor.
Associate Professor Henrietta Lilian MarrieGimuy, Yidinji2018Significant service to the community as an advocate for Aboriginal cultural heritage and intellectual property rights, and to education.
Iris Christina Lovett-GardinerGunditjmara2003Service to the Aboriginal community as founder of the Aboriginal Community Elders Service Hostel in Melbourne, and through translating and documenting the generational stories and history of the Kerrup-J-Marra clan from the Lake Condah Mission.
Jacqueline "Jackie" Gail HugginsBidjara / Pitjara, Biri / Birri Gubba Juru2001Service to the Aboriginal community, particularly in the areas of reconciliation, social justice, literacy and women's issues.
James Galarrwuy YunupinguYolngu1985Service to the Aboriginal community.
John Edward "Sandy" AtkinsonBangerang1983Service to the Aboriginal arts.
Johnathan Dean ThurstonGunggari2019Significant service to rugby league, and as a role model.
Josephine Grace Geiaunknown2006Service to the Aboriginal community of Palm Island through leadership, advocacy and mediation roles.
Josephine Patricia AkeeTorres Strait Islander2006Service to the Aboriginal community, particularly the people of the Torres Strait Islands through promoting understanding and recognition of traditional cultural heritage.
Prof Heather Jeannie HerbertNyikina2012Service to tertiary education, particularly through improvements to educational outcomes for Aboriginal people, and to the delivery of learning opportunities across regional and remote northern Australia.
Karyn Lee Baylisunknown2018Significant service to the Aboriginal community through the development of entrepreneurial initiatives and business programs.
Dr Kathleen "Kaye" Alice PriceNuennone2019Significant service to education, particularly through Aboriginal teaching initiatives.
Kathy "Gotha" GuthadjakaGatjirrk Warramiri2018Significant service to the Aboriginal community through contributions to education and cultural preservation in East Arnhem Land.
Kenneth (Ken) George WyattYamatji, Wongi / Noongar1996Service to the Aboriginal community particularly in the fields of health, education and employment through his work with the WA Department of Health and Education and the Equal Opportunity Tribunal.
William "Lin" OnusYorta Yorta1993Service to the arts as a painter and sculptor and to the promotion of Aboriginal artists and their work.
Lois PeelerYorta Yorta2014Significant service to the Aboriginal community as an educator, advocate and role model.
Dr Cindy Louise "Lou" BennettYorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung2019Significant service to the performing arts, particularly to music, and to the Aboriginal community.
Lucy MarshallNyikina2015Significant service to the community as an elder and leader, as an advocate for Aboriginal people, and as a mentor to women in Derby.
Mabel EdmundDarumbal, South Sea Islander1986Service to the Aboriginal community.
Major "Moogy" L SumnerNgarrindjeri2014Significant service to the Aboriginal community of South Australia through contributions to health, social welfare, youth and cultural heritage organisations.
Prof Marcia Lynne LangtonYiman, Bidjara1993Service as an anthropologist and advocate of Aboriginal issues.
Michael James "Mick" DodsonYawuru2003Service to the Aboriginal community, particularly in raising awareness of social justice issues, as a contributor to advancing the reconciliation process, and as a campaigner for native title rights.
Mollie Geraldine DyerYorta Yorta1979Service to the welfare of Aboriginal people.
Muriel Pauline Bamblett (nee Cadd)Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung2004Service to the community, particularly through leadership in the provision of services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.
NganyinytjaPitjantjatjara1993Service to Aboriginal culture and welfare.
Noel Christian ToveyNgarrindjeri2015Significant service to the performing arts, to Aboriginal performers, and as an advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community.
Dr Patricia "Pat" Anne Davis-HurstWorimi1993Service to the Aboriginal people of the Manning Valley.
Rishelle Nicole HumeNoongar2018Significant service to the Aboriginal community of Western Australia through developing opportunities, promoting leadership and preserving culture.
Dr Robert Francis Isaacs, OAMBillumum Noongar2016Significant service to the Aboriginal community through the advancement of social justice, education, health and housing initiatives, and to reconciliation.
Robert Stanly SomervilleMartu2003Service to education in Western Australia as a contributor to the advancement of educational opportunities, particularly for Aboriginal students, and to youth through the Australian Air Force Cadets.
Russell Charles TaylorKamilaroi2015Significant service to the community as a cultural leader and public sector executive in the field of Aboriginal affairs.
Sealin Roger GarlettWhadjuck, Balardong2019Significant service to the Uniting Church in Australia.
Shirley Peisleyunknown2000Service to the Aboriginal community of South Australia through heritage, cultural, legal, health, welfare, religious and government organisations.
Shirley "Mum Shirl" Colleen Smith, MBEWiradjuri1985Service to Aboriginal people and to the Aboriginal community.
Solomon "Sol" David BellearBundjalung1999Service to the Aboriginal community, particularly in relation to the administration and development of health policies.
Suzanne Margaret (Aunty Sue) BlacklockNucoorilma2016Significant service to the Aboriginal community through advocacy roles for improved child welfare, kinship care and cultural identity.
Teresa Raye Lewis [2]unknown2018Significant service to the Aboriginal communities of the East Pilbara, particularly to women and children affected by domestic violence.
Emeritus Professor Valerie Judith AtkinsonJiman, Bundjalung2019Significant service to the Aboriginal community, to education, and to mental health.
Veronica Mary DobsonEastern Arrente2011Service to the Aboriginal community as an Arrente elder and traditional owner, as a linguist, naturalist and ecologist, and to the preservation of Aboriginal language and culture in central Australia.
Victor George ChapmanYuwaalaraay2019Significant service to the Aboriginal community, to tertiary education, and to the visual arts.
Waverley Shane StanleyWakka Wakka2019Significant service to the Aboriginal community through support for education.
Yvonne Lorraine Howarthunknown1999Service to the community, particularly as an advocate for the provision of better housing and health services to the Aboriginal community in Bourke, and through the Women's Advisory Council of New South Wales.

Medal of the Order (OAM)

PersonNationYearReceived for...
Alastair Robert King [2]unknown2018For service to the Aboriginal community of the Northern Territory.
Dr Albert Barrie Pittock, PSMunknown2019Service to the Aboriginal community.
Alec Donald RossKaytetye2013Service to tourism in central Australia.
Alma Lilly StackhousePalawa1989Service to the Aboriginal community in Tasmania.
Andrea Jane MasonKaronie, Ngaanyatjarra2018Service to the Aboriginal community of the Northern Territory.
Agnes Josephine SheaNgunnawal2004Service to Ngunnawal people by contributing to the improvement and development of services for the Aboriginal people of the Australian Capital Territory and region.
Dulcie Gladys FlowerTorres Strait Islander1994Service to the community, particularly on the area of Aboriginal health worker training.
Kathleen Mary MillsKungarakung, Gurindji2019Service to the Aboriginal community.
Dr Robert Francis IsaacsBillumum Noongar2000Service to Aboriginal communities in Western Australia, through housing administration and participation in instrumentalities concerned with health, welfare and education.
Alfred NealDjungan2019Service to the Aboriginal community, particularly to the 1967 Referendum Campaign.
Anne Margaret ConwayWergaia2019Service to the community of Bendigo.
Arthur "Big Artie" Henry BeetsonMurri1987Service to the sport of Rugby League.
Catherine "Cathy" Astrid Salome FreemanKuku Yalanji, Burri Gubba2001Service to sport, particularly athletics.
Catherine Elizabeth ArcherTorres Strait Islander1989Service to hockey.
Charlie KingGurinjdi2015Service to the broadcast media, and to the Aboriginal community of the Northern Territory.
Cherry Wulumirr DanielsNgandi2016Service to the Aboriginal community of the Northern Territory.
Colin Francis WategoBundjalung, Torres Strait Islander2016Meritorious service to Aboriginal Affairs in the Australian Defence Force.
Colleen Joan RosasGudjula2019Service to the Aboriginal community of the Northern Territory.
Diana Rosemary TravisYorta Yorta (?)2019Service to the Aboriginal community, particularly to the 1967 Referendum Campaign.
Diane KerrWurundjeri2019Service to the Aboriginal community of Victoria.
Reverend Dr Djiniyini GondarraYolngu1995Service to the Uniting Church and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.
Djon Scott MundineBandjalung1993Service to the promotion and development of Aboriginal arts, crafts and culture.
Elsie Belphina SeriatWagadagum, Kaurareg2018Service to the Aboriginal community of Thursday Island.
Edward "Ted" Alfred LovettGunditjmara2017Service to the Aboriginal community of southwest Victoria.
Essieina "Essie" CoffeyMuruwari1985Service to the Aboriginal community of Brewarrina, NSW.
Esther Naomi KirbyBaraparapa2018Service to the Aboriginal community of Victoria.
Ettie PauTorres Strait Islander1985Services to the Torres Strait Islands community (work as an ex-servicemen in the TSLI Battalion, his fight for backpay, establishing the TSI Cooperative, and as an active member of FCAATSI).
Fay Priscilla CarterYorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung2019Service to the Aboriginal community of Victoria.
Florence "Flo" WatsonGhunghanghi2015Service to the Aboriginal community of Queensland.
Gary William OakleyGundungurra2019For service to the Aboriginal community through a range of organisations.
Gayangwa Dimingkyangwa LalaraWarnindilyakwa2018Service to the Aboriginal community of the Northern Territory.
Gerald Ernest Brown [2]unknown2019Service to the Aboriginal community of the Illawarra.
Jack CrombieYankunytjatjara2019For service to the Aboriginal community of South Australia.
Julie Anne TongsWiradjuri2012Service to the Aboriginal community of the Australian Capital Territory.
June Hilary Atkinson MurrayWiradjuri2019Service to the Aboriginal community of Victoria.
Justine Florence SaundersWoppaburra1991Service to the performing arts and to the National Aboriginal Theatre, and for her help in establishing the Black Theatre and the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust. [3]
Kemarre Margaret Mary TurnerArrernte1997Service to the Aboriginal community of Central Australia, particularly through preserving language and culture, and interpreting.
Marcia Lynne Ella-DuncanYuin1988Service to the sport of netball.
Marie Dawn HallsBarkindji1988Service to the Aboriginal community of Menindee.
Maxine Joyce Mackay [2]unknown2019Service to the Aboriginal community of Bourke.
Lisa Michl Ko-manggénKokoberrin2019Service to Aboriginal visual arts.
Lorraine Bunta Lillian Patten [1]Gunditjmara2019For service to Aboriginal community of Victoria.
Lorraine Stacey HattonQuandamooka2019Service to the Aboriginal community.
Louisa Agnes IngramWiradjuri1984Service to Aboriginal Welfare.
Melva JohnsonYorta Yorta, Wemba Wemba2019Service to the Aboriginal community of Victoria.
Michael Charles GreenWorimi2018Service to the Aboriginal community.
Nancy Joan RookeWiradjuri2009Service to the Aboriginal community of the Albury Wodonga region.
Naomi Ruth MayersYorta Yorta, Wiradjuri1984Services to Aboriginal welfare.
Nessie Mary SkutaPitjatjantjara, Yuin1985Service to the Aboriginal community of the Gippsland region in Victoria.
Noel NannupNyungarInjabarndi2019Service to the Aboriginal community of Western Australia.
Noela Isobel Daviesunknown2017Service to nursing, and to international humanitarian healthcare programs.
Nova Maree Peris-KneeboneMurran1997Service to sport as a gold medallist at the Atlanta Olympic Games, 1996.
Pamela "Pam" Joy PedersenYorta Yorta2019Service to the Aboriginal community.
Pantjiti Unkari McKenziePitjantjatjara2019Service to the Aboriginal community of the Northern Territory.
Purki EdwardsAnangu1978Service to nursing and to Aboriginal welfare.
Rachelle Ann Towartunknown2018Service to the Aboriginal community.
Ralph NadenWiradjuri2019For service to the Aboriginal community of Western New South Wales.
Reginald Williamsunknown2019For service to the Aboriginal community of Queensland.
Richard Barry WalleyNyoongar1993Service to the performing arts and to the promotion of the culture of the south western Aboriginal people (Nyoongah).
Robert Charles Miniter [2]unknown2018For service to the Aboriginal community of Western Australia.
Robert LiddleArrernte2013Service to the community through roles with Aboriginal organisations, particularly in the oil exploration and production industry.
Rosalie Lynette Kunoth-MonksArrernte, Anmatjere1993Service to the Aboriginal community.
Ruth Ogden AbdullahDjaru/Gidja, Gurindji2017Service to the Aboriginal community of Western Australia.
Ruth Wallace Henningsunknown2019Service to the Aboriginal community, particularly to the 1967 Referendum Campaign.
Sally Sophia GooldWiradjuri1986Service to nursing education.
Shirly Elizabeth MooneyWongi2017Service to veterans and their families.
Tjikalyi Collinsunknown1994Service to the Aboriginal community.
Duncan Tod SmithWiradjuri2016Service to Aboriginal youth, and to the community.
Vicki Joan ClarkMutthi Mutthi, Wemba Wemba2018Service to the Aboriginal community of Victoria.
William "Bill" Elwin O'BrienBiripi2017Service to the Aboriginal community of northern New South Wales.
William Maxwell Risk [2]unknownFor service to the Aboriginal community of the Northern Territory.

The Order of Australia has five levels (top to bottom): Knight/Dame of the Order (AK/AD, no longer active), Companion of the Order (AC), Officer of the Order (AO), Member of the Order (AM), and Medal of the Order (OAM). You can search names in the database of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Other official awards

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

PersonNationYearReceived for...
Pastor Douglas NichollsYorta Yorta1957Services to the Aboriginal people.
Wandjuk Djuwakan MarikaYolngu1979Services to the arts.

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

PersonNationYearReceived for...
Evonne Fay GoolagongWiradjuri1972Service to the sport of tennis.
Gladys ElphickKaurna, Ngadjuri1971Service to the Aboriginal community.
Joyce Caroline ClagueYaegl1977Service to the Aboriginal community.
Lionel Edward Roseunknown1968Services to sport.
Margaret Valadianunknown1976Services to the Aboriginal community and advocacy for the education of Aboriginal children.
Sadie Miriam Canning (née Corner)unknown1964Services to healthcare and nursing as a matron of the Leonora Hospital in WA.
Shirley "Mum Shirl" Colleen SmithWiradjuri1977Services to the Aboriginal community.

Some organisations have set up up their own awards honouring Aboriginal people. The Australia First Party, for example, honoured several with an "Order of the Wattle Blossom".

References

View article sources (3)

[1] [1a] Awarded posthumously.
[2] [2a] [2b] [2c] [2d] [2e] Aboriginal identity not ascertained.
[3] In 2000 Saunders asked the Aboriginal senator Aden Ridgeway to return her medal because of the emotional turmoil her mother was going through after the federal government's denial of the term "Stolen Generations". (see 'A fight against the stereotype', SMH 18/4/2007)

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2019, Order of Australia: Aboriginal winners, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/people/order-of-australia-aboriginal-winners>, retrieved 11 December 2019

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