Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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    Portrait of Patricia O'Shane, AM, 1988, by Mitelman, Jacqueline
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O'Shane, Patricia (1941 - )

Born
1941
Mossman, Queensland, Australia
Occupation
Barrister, Public servant, Teacher, Management consultant, Magistrate, Café owner, University Chancellor and Aboriginal activist

Summary

Patricia O'Shane was born in Northern Queensland in 1941. A noted activist for indigenous rights, her achievements in the public sphere have been remarkable. She was the first Aboriginal Australian Barrister (1976) and the first woman to be appointed to the New South Wales Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board (1979). When she was appointed permanent head of the New South Wales Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs in 1981, she became not only the first Aboriginal person but also the first woman to become a permanent head of ministry in Australia.

Details

Patricia O'Shane was born in 1941 in the small township of Mossman, North Queensland. She attended State primary and high schools in Cairns, and was awarded a Teacher's Scholarship, which enabled her to study full-time at the Queensland Teachers' Training College, and part-time at the University of Queensland. After graduating from Teachers' College, she taught at primary and high schools respectively before and after her marriage. In 1973, having received an Aboriginal study grant from the Federal Government, she undertook a Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of New South Wales, and completed the course at the end of 1975. In March 1976 she became Australia's first Aboriginal Barrister at a ceremony in the New South Wales Supreme Court. In 1979 she was appointed a Member of the New South Wales Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board - the first female member in the Board's 91-year history. She has worked with the New South Wales Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly on Aborigines, as Coordinator of the Aboriginal Task Force. In November 1981 Pat O'Shane was appointed permanent head of the New South Wales Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, becoming not only the first Aboriginal person but also the first woman to become permanent head of a ministry in Australia.

Sources used to compile this entry: Beeson, Margaret J (compiled by), Some Aboriginal women pathfinders : their difficulties and their achievements, Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Australia, Adelaide, [1980], 80 pp.

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Digital resources

Title
Portrait of Patricia O'Shane, AM
Type
Image
Date
1988
Creator
Mitelman, Jacqueline

Details

Leonarda Kovacic and Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE1068b.htm

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