List of Indigenous Australians in politics and public service

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Numerous Indigenous Australians have been notable for their contributions to politics, including participation in governments and activism in Australia. Others are noted for their public service, generally and in specific areas like law and education.

Politics and government[edit]

By 1962–65 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were granted universal suffrage.


Sir Douglas Nicholls was the first and so far the only Indigenous Australian Governor of an Australian state (Governor of South Australia, 1976–77).


Neville Bonner was the first Indigenous man to become a member of the Federal Parliament, when he was appointed to fill a casual Senate vacancy in 1971. In 1972 he was the first Indigenous man to (successfully) run for an election. Pat Eatock was the first Indigenous woman to (unsuccessfully) run for an election, in 1972.[1]

Thirty-three Indigenous Australians have been elected to a state, territory or federal parliament. Thirteen of those elected have been women. Of those elected, seventeen have been elected to the Northern Territory assembly, six to the Australian Federal Parliament, four to the parliament of Western Australia, three to the parliament of Queensland and one each to the parliaments of Tasmania and New South Wales and one to the Australian Capital Territory assembly. Nobody of acknowledged Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander ancestry has been a member of the parliaments of South Australia or Victoria or of the Norfolk Island assembly.

Neville Perkins was the first Indigenous Leader of the Opposition in the Northern Territory, as the leader of the Labour Party from 1977-1971.

Ernie Bridge was the first Indigenous Australian to become a minister in a government. Marion Scrymgour was the first Indigenous woman to become a minister and has to date been the highest ranked Indigenous woman in a government, when she became Deputy Chief Minister of the Northern Territory from 2007 until 2009. Adam Giles was the first Indigenous Australian to lead a government as Chief Minister of the Northern Territory in 2013.

Pat Dixon was the first Aboriginal woman elected to Local Government in Australia.

Party leaders[edit]

This list only includes those who held party leadership positions outside of a parliament.

Warren Mundine was the first Indigenous Australian to become National President of the Australian Labor Party.

There have been various leaders of the Australia's First Nations Political Party, however no candidate from this party has been successful in an election.

Public servants[edit]

Name Contribution Refs
Geoff Clark led the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC)
Gatjil Djerrkura Led ATSIC
John Gorrie First Aboriginal male awarded a Public Service Medal, for his contribution to public service
Stan Grant
Ruby Hammond
Damien Miller first Indigenous person appointed to head an Australian overseas mission — appointed Ambassador to Denmark, Norway and Iceland in 2013 [2]
Big Bill Neidjie Last Gaagudju speaker and central figure in the foundation of Kakadu National Park
Lowitja O'Donoghue led ATSIC
Charles Perkins
Bobbi Sykes
Neville Williams
Galarrwuy Yunupingu
Mandawuy Yunupingu



Lawyers and judges[edit]

  • Irene Watson - lawyer and academic


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, 1 April 2013 Archived 29 June 2014 at WebCite
  3. ^ "Former Head of Aboriginal Catholic Ministry convicted of child sex crimes". NITV. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Loading site please wait..." Retrieved 3 June 2018.