Pat Dodson

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Patrick Dodson
Pat Dodson 2010.jpg
Dodson at Clayoquot Sound in 2010
Senator for Western Australia
Assumed office
2 May 2016
Preceded byJoe Bullock
Personal details
Patrick Lionel Djargun Dodson

(1948-01-29) 29 January 1948 (age 70)
Broome, Western Australia, Australia
Political partyAustralian Labor Party
Alma materCorpus Christi College, Melbourne

Patrick Lionel Djargun Dodson (born 29 January 1948) is a Senator for Western Australia. He is a Yawuru man from Broome, Western Australia. He has been chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Commissioner into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and a Roman Catholic priest. He was the winner of the 2008 Sydney Peace Prize and the 2009 John Curtin Medallist.[1] His brother is Mick Dodson, also a national Indigenous Australian leader.

On 2 March 2016, Dodson was announced as the replacement for Joe Bullock as a Labor Senator for Western Australia, following Bullock's resignation.[2] The Parliament of Western Australia appointed Dodson to the Australian Senate on 2 May 2016.[3]


Dodson was born on 29 January 1948 in Broome.[4] His father, John "Snowy" Dodson, was born in Launceston, Tasmania and his mother, Patricia, was indigenous Australian.[5] The family moved to Katherine in the Northern Territory when Pat was two, to escape Western Australian laws banning race-mix families.[6]

The Dodson children were orphaned at the deaths of both parents only three months apart in 1960.[6] He and his brother Mick were made wards of the state, but their aunt and uncle decided they should accept a scholarship to study at Monivae College in Hamilton, Victoria, where Dodson became head prefect and captain of football.[1] After completing his schooling, Patrick enrolled to study for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College, Melbourne and was ordained in the order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in May 1975. He later left the priesthood due to conflict over the balance and blend of Catholicism and Aboriginal spiritual belief.[4][7]

He holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Melbourne and an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of New South Wales.

He lives in Broome where he is also involved in matters relating to the preservation and development of Indigenous rights and culture.


Some of the prominent roles and positions Dodson has held include:[8]

  • Director of the Central Land Council and the Kimberley Land Council[when?]
  • Commissioner into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, 1989
  • Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (1991-1997) (This body was replaced by Reconciliation Australia). He retired stating "I fear for the spirit of this country".
  • He was the first Indigenous Australian Roman Catholic priest, but left the priesthood in the early 1980s.[9]
  • Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame Australia.
  • Chairperson, Kimberley Development Commission (his term expired in November 2010)[10]
  • Chairman of the Lingiari Foundation, an Indigenous non government advocacy and research Foundation.
  • Inaugural Director of the Indigenous Policy, Dialogue and Research Unit (IPDRU) at the University of New South Wales
  • Chairman of the Yawuru Native Title Holders Body Corporate (2010-2013)[11] and Nyamba Buru Yawuru Ltd (to 2015)[12]

In 2012 he gave the inaugural Gandhi Oration at the University of New South Wales.[13]


The Parliament of Western Australia appointed Dodson to fill a casual vacancy in the Australian Senate on 2 May 2016, following the resignation of Labor senator Joe Bullock. He was sworn in as a senator on the same day, and sat as a Labor senator for Western Australia. He retained his seat at the 2016 federal election.[14]


  1. ^ a b "Patrick Lionel Dodson (2009)". Curtin University.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Pat Dodson elected WA's newest senator". ABC News. 28 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b "National Finalist Senior Australian of the Year 2009: Patrick Dodson". National Australia Day Council. 2009. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  5. ^ Wright, Tony (11 November 2017). "How the citizenship farce ensnared the 'father of reconciliation', Patrick Dodson". The Age. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  6. ^ a b Tony Wright (5 March 2016). "Aboriginal elder Pat Dodson: portrait of the senator as a young man". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Patrick Dodson - Aboriginal leader". Wandoo Didgeridoo. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Mr Patrick Dodson". Australian National University.
  9. ^ Rolls, Mitchell; Johnson, Murray. Historical Dictionary of Australian Aborigines. p. 64.
  10. ^ Kimberley Development Commission - KDC Board Archived 1 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Debra Jopson; Phillip Coorey, (31 January 2012) "Practise what we preach: father of reconciliation attacks two-faced Australia." Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney
  14. ^

Other sources[edit]

  • Kevin Keeffe, (2003) Paddy's Road: Life Stories of Patrick Dodson" Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra ISBN 0-85575-448-6

External links[edit]