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Burney, Linda Jean (c. 1957 - )

c. 1957
Leeton, New South Wales, Australia
Aboriginal administrator, Parliamentarian and Educator


A successful Aboriginal bureaucrat and activist, Linda Burney became the first Aboriginal person elected to the New South Wales (NSW) Parliament in 2003, and only the fourth Aboriginal woman elected anywhere in Australia. She was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2015. She held a range of Ministerial portfolios from 2007-2011. In 2016 she was serving as Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Parliamentary and Local Government career

  • Elected, Canterbury, 2003, Party: ALP


Linda Jean Burney, of Wiradjuri descent, grew up in Whitton, a small farming community near Leeton. One of the 'Stolen Generation' of Aboriginal children, she first met her father when she was 28 years old.

Burney obtained her Diploma of Teaching from the then Mitchell College of Advanced Education. In 1979 she began teaching at Lethbridge Park public school in western Sydney. In the mid-1980s she became involved in the New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) and helped set up the national body, the Australian federation of AECGs, in 1990-91. She was also instrumental in the development and implementation of the first Aboriginal education policy in Australia for the state's education department.

In the early 1990s Burney was, concurrently, president of the national body of AECGs, and chair of the New South Wales National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy Coordinating Committee. Her priorities have been early childhood education, mandatory Aboriginal studies in all schools, and the eradication of racism in education.

She has been a Member of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission National Social Justice Taskforce and an Executive Member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

Since her election for Canterbury 2003 she has been a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Children and Young People 2003-04 and the Legislation Review Committee 2004.

She has two children, son Binni and daughter Willuri.

Sources used to compile this entry: Horton, David (ed.), The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia : Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, society and culture, Aboriginal Studies Press for AIATSIS, Canberra, 1994, 2 v. (xxxiii, 1340 p.) pp. pp. 167-8.;

  • [accessed 11 November 2004]
  • Sydney Morning Herald 28 September 2002, [accessed 11 November 2004]
  • Sun-Herald, Sunday Life, p.25, 20 March 2005, [accessed 11 July 2005]
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    Leonarda Kovacic and Barbara Lemon

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