Because of Her, We Can – Pat Anderson
“We need real change, because we, First Peoples, have something unique to offer this country. Our peoples have been here 65,000 years or more. Over these immeasurable periods we have developed a profound wisdom about this land and about what it means practically and spiritually to live here. We know this place. This is our place, and there is no doubt about it.”
Ms Anderson is an Alyawarre woman known nationally and internationally as a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples. She is the Chair of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. Ms Anderson was also Co-Chair of the Referendum Council, tasked with making recommendations to the federal government on how to best recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the constitution. The Council handed its final report to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader in June 2017.
She has spoken before the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous People, has been the CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Chair of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), and was the Chair of the CRC for Aboriginal Health from 2003 to 2009. Ms Anderson has also published many essays, papers and articles, including co-authoring with Rex Wild QC of Little Children Are Sacred, a report on the abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.
Her unwavering commitment to improving the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been recognised by many distinguished institutions. In 2007, Ms Anderson was awarded the Public Health Association of Australia’s Sidney Sax Public Health Medal in recognition of her achievements; she was awarded the Human Rights Community Individual Award (Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Award) in 2012 and the Human Rights Medal in 2016 by the Australian Human Rights Commission. In 2013, she received an honorary doctorate from Flinders University and in 2017 Edith Cowan University conferred on Ms Anderson a Doctor of Medical Science honoris causa. In 2015, Ms Anderson won the public policy category Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards. She is the current chair of the Remote Area Health Corporation.
Ms Anderson was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2014 for distinguished service to the Indigenous community as a social justice advocate, particularly through promoting improved health, and educational and protection outcomes for children.
“I have dedicated my life to creating and nurturing understanding, compassion and honesty between people – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – and there is much still to be done.”