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Giese, Nancy
(1922 – 2012)

Community Leader, Educator

Dr Nancy (Nan) Giese was a pioneer of education and the visual and performing arts in the Northern Territory. She was strongly involved in planning and setting up the first tertiary institutions and for ten years was elected Chancellor of the Northern Territory University, now Charles Darwin University.

Valadian, Margaret
(1936 – )


Margaret Valadian was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) on 26 January 1986 and Civil Member of the Order of the British Empire on 12 June 1976 for services to the Aboriginal Community.

Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission
(1993 – )

The Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission was established in 1993 with the aim of eliminating discrimination by raising awareness about the rights and responsibilities of individuals under the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Act. The Commission has three main roles: public education and training; the handling of complaints and community engagement.

Northern Territory Local Court
(2015 – )

The Northern Territory Local Court was established by the Local Court Act 2015. The Court hears criminal and civil matters. Among changes to be introduced in 2016, magistrates were renamed judges and the limit of civil claims was raised from $100,000 to $250,000.

Northern Territory Women Lawyers’ Association
(1980 – 1980)

The Northern Territory Women Lawyers’ Association was established in the 1980s.

Shaw, Barbara Catherine
(1952 – )

Aboriginal rights activist

Read more about Barbara Catherine Shaw in our sister publication The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia.

Kettle, Ellen Sarah
(1922 – 1999)

Administrator, Nurse

Read more about Ellen Sarah Kettle in our sister publication The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia.

Kngwarreye, Emily Kame
(1910 – 1996)


Read more about Emily Kame Kngwarreye in our sister publication The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia.

Griggs, Natasha Louise


A member of the Country Liberal Party in the Northern Territory, Natasha Griggs was elected to the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament as the Member for Solomon, Northern Territory, at the election which was held on 21 August 2010. In 2008, before entering the Australian Parliament, she served in local government as an alderman and deputy mayor for Palmerston.

Glynn, Freda
(1939 – )

Journalist, Radio Journalist, Television Journalist

Freda Glynn is co-founder of the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association Group of Companies (CAAMA).

Ah Toy, Lily
(1917 – 2001)

Businesswoman, Community activist

Lily Ah Toy was well known and respected across the Northern Territory; so well respected that, as part of the bicentennial events in 1988, she was one of only eight Territory women to be recognised for their contributions and achievements. Her family were key figures in the Pine Creek and Darwin (Northern Territory) Chinese communities, although, they came to be well regarded across ethnic boundaries, for the extent of their generosity and involvement in the community, her efforts in 1974 to assist people made homeless and hungry by Cyclone Tracy being a case in point.

At various times in her life, Lily was involved in school mother’s clubs, church councils, the Red Cross and various Chinese organisations. In 1982, Lily graduated from the Northern Territory University with a diploma in ceramics. At 65 years of age she was the oldest graduate.

Lily’s family was very poor but, through hard work and commitment, they made their place in the Territory. It is important that Lily and other Chinese Australians are now recognised as an important part of our Northern Territory history.

Cummings, Barbara
(1948 – 2019)

Child welfare worker, Welfare worker, Writer

Barbara Cummings, a member of the Stolen Generations, was brought up in the Retta Dixon Home. She graduated in social work and community development before working with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Northern Territory Government. She was involved with a number of organisations in a voluntary capacity and played a crucial role in the establishment of Karu, the Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Agency in Darwin.

In 1991 Cummings received the Aboriginal of the Year award. She is the author of Take This Child which exposes the history of the removal of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.

Barbara Cummings passed away in September 2019, aged 71. Many have paid tribute to the trailblazing Territorian, who became a powerful voice in Aboriginal affairs in Australia.

National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame
(1994 – )

Museum, Research Centre

In February 1993 a public meeting was called in Alice Springs to gauge the extent of community interest in establishing a project that commemorated the lives of the ‘pioneer’ women of Australia. There proved to be immense interest and a committee was formed to determine how best this aim could be achieved, and how funds might be raised in order to do so. Mrs Molly Clark, of Old Andado Station in Central Australia, contributed much of the early organisational drive as well as an important geographic focus for fundraising efforts. One of the key aims of the organising committee was to raise money to create a purpose-built museum, including an art gallery and research area in Alice Springs. ‘Molly’s Bash’, the main annual fundraising event, has been held on Mrs Clark’s property every year since the project was launched in 1993.

The purpose built centre has not been constructed yet, but the museum and hall of fame have managed to establish a presence in temporary physical quarters and in cyberspace. In March 1994 the Northern Territory government, on behalf of the organisation, leased the Old Courthouse, a 1928 heritage-listed former government building located in Alice Springs’ CBD. Furthermore, the organising committee have successfully applied for funding to establish important on-line exhibitions. ‘Women at the Heart’, ‘First in their Field’ and ‘Women’s Work’ are pioneering efforts in themselves, demonstrating the power of the World Wide Web as it connects the stories of women in remote locations to the international community.

Although the concept was originally promoted as one that would, importantly, preserve and protect the stories of local women, the project quickly became national in scope. As the mission statement suggests, it isn’t only rural and regional women who belong in the centre.

‘The National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to preserving the place of women in history and their special contribution to Australia’s heritage.’

Olive Pink Botanic Garden
(1956 – )

Public Gardens

The Olive Pink Botanic Gardens, located in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory were established in 1956 by their founder, anthropologist Olive Pink. Originally named the Australian Arid Regions Native Flora Reserve, an then the Olive Pink Flora Reserve, Miss Pink and her Warlpiri assistant gardeners worked for nearly two years to establish a public area for the appreciation of central desert native fauna.

Olive Pink lived in the Tanami desert in Central Australia with Aboriginal people for 36 years before starting work on a Floral Reserve at Alice Springs in 1956. Miss Pink worked on the development of the sixteen-hectare reserve with the assistance of Aboriginal gardeners until her death in 1975. The Olive Pink Botanic Garden opened to the public in 1985.

Turner, Patricia Ann
(1952 – )

Aboriginal rights activist, Feminist, Public servant

Born and raised in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, Patricia (Pat) Turner ‘s long association with Canberra began with a temporary position with the Public Service Board, leading to the Social Policy Branch of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) in 1979. Joining the Australian Public Service (APS) in Alice Springs as a switchboard operator in the Native Affairs Department , she moved to Canberra in 1978, joining the senior executive ranks of the public service in 1985, when she became Director of the DAA in Alice Springs, N.T. (1985-86). Pat then became First Assistant Secretary, Economic Development Division in the DAA, and in 1989, Deputy Secretary. She worked as Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet during 1991-92, with oversight of the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and with responsibility for the Office of the Status of Women among other matters. Between 1994 -1998, Pat was CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, which made her the most senior Indigenous government official in Australia. After stints in senior positions at the Department of Health and at Centrelink, Pat Turner left the APS and Canberra in 2006, returning to Alice Springs with her mother to live. There, she has continued to advocate on the behalf of indigenous people, including taking on what she described as ‘one of the best working experiences of my life’ as CEO of National Indigenous Television (2006 -2010). (Interview) Other memorable experiences include the period when she was Festival Director of the 5th Festival of Pacific Arts in Townsville, Queensland (1987 -88) and when she held the Chair of Australian Studies at Georgetown University in Washington DC (1998-99). Turner holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Canberra where she was awarded the University prize for Development Studies.