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1993: Death of Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker), Aboriginal poet, activist and artist

16 September All day

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) was born Kathleen Jean Mary Ruska, on Minjerribah (the Stradbroke Island). She was a poet, political activist, artist and educator. Oodgeroo Noonuccal means Oodgeroo of the tribe Nunuccal. Oodgeroo was a strong promoter of Aboriginal culture and a campaigner for indigenous rights.

As the Australian Women’s Register explains:

“Oodgeroo’s work has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Mary Gilmore Medal (1970), the Jessie Litchfield Award (1975), the International Acting Award and the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ Award. She also held an honorary doctorate of letters (Macquarie University) and was awarded the degree of Doctor of the University from Griffith University. In 1970, Oodgeroo (under the name Kathleen Walker) was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (Civil) for services to the community. She returned it in 1987 in protest against the forthcoming Australian Bicentenary celebrations (1988). It was around this time that she reclaimed her traditional name, Oodgeroo of the Noonuccal Tribe.”

The Australian Women’s Register


Read Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s poems about her experience of racism and dispossession. Has anything changed? Consider what you can do.