50 Amazing Tidda Queens
Strong women are so important for our next generation of girls. How can Indigenous and Non-Indigenous girls alike strive for success if they cannot look up and see strong and proud women who have overcome barriers to be successful in their chosen field or in times past survived insurmountable odds to survive?
These women are role models for our daughters, they show through fortitude and belief in themselves that they can achieve. This possibility can fuel a young woman to believe they can be whoever they want to be. When we see other women surviving and thriving we are optimistic about our own potential.
This article has been a labour of love, researching these women has fuelled in us the need to promote and create the Tidda Queen almanac. We need our daughters to hear about strong women each and every day. We are proud to present the first 50 Tidda Queens, though this is just the start.
Born in 1812, In Tasmania, she was part of the local Indigenous group who were moved from their land to the Aboriginal settlement, Flinders Island during the European invasion of Australia.
Truganinin was also baptised with a different name, Lallah Rookh, because of the “Europeanization” of Australia.
It was believed she gave birth to a daughter, Louisa Esmai.
She died on May 8, 1876, at the age of 64. Against her wishes, her skeleton was placed on public display at the Tasmanian Museum in 1904.
However, in April 1976, despite the hurdles she experienced even upon her death, her last wishes were met when her remains were cremated and scattered in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel.
2. Gladys Elphick
An Aboriginal community leader who was an active member of Aborigines Advancement League of South Australia, who organised social and sports events.
Gladys also was the founder and long running president of the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia. Through this organisation, she aimed to heighten the position of the Indigenous people in the community. In 1977, Gladys also founded the Aboriginal Medical Service.
‘Aunty Glad’ Elphick, a highly respected Elder in the Aboriginal community, was named as South Australian Aboriginal of the Year in 1984. Four years later, on 19 January 1988, she passed and was buried in the Centennial Park Cemetery.
3. Fanny Cochrane Smith
Fanny Cochrane Smith was an Aboriginal Tasmanian leader and Indigenous cultural identity who was born in early December 1834.
At a young age of 12, she was already working as a domestic servant.
In 1876, Fanny asserted herself as the last remaining Tasmanian Aboriginal.
She and her husband, William Smith were one of the early converts to Methodism.
One of her contributions to Aboriginal cultural preservation is the wax cylinder recordings of her speaking and singing in early Tasmanian Aboriginal language.
This was the only valuable authentication of the Tasmanian Aboriginal song and speech.
On 24 February 1905, Fanny passed of pneumonia and pleurisy.
4. Joyce Clague
Joyce Clague was one of the most determined Aboriginal political activists of our time.
At a young age, she showed her defiance of the “erasure” of Indigenous culture by continuing to use her mother tongue, the Yagal language.
Joyce Clague was one of the most significant figures in influencing the 1967 Constitutional Referendum.
In the campaign, also known as the “YES” vote, Joyce encouraged many non-Indigenous groups to register and vote for an inclusive society.
Her tenacity and bravery advanced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. She is an admired Tidda Queen to all Indigenous communities due to her tireless work for social change.
5. Kirstie Parker
Strong and proud Aboriginal woman Kristie Parker is a Yuwallarai woman from the northwest of New South Wales.
Kirstie has had some amazing distinctions through her tireless work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Kirstie is the current CEO of the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE). Before her current position, she was the co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
She was also a former editor of the Koori Mail, a 100% Aboriginal owned newspaper.
Kirstie is a Director of Reconciliation Australia, an independent, not-for-profit Australian institution that promotes reconciliation through relationship building, respect and trust between the non-Aboriginals and the indigenous people.
Kirsite was named NSW Woman of the Year -- Aboriginal Woman of the Year category in 2016.
6. Shirley Colleen Smith
Famously known as “Mum Shirl,” Shirley Coleen Smith was an outstanding social worker and philanthropist who was dedicated to justice and welfare of all indigenous Australians.
Mum Shirl was one of the founding members on some of the most important Indigenous advocacy, health and social welfare boards, such as the Aboriginal Legal Service, the Aboriginal Medical Service, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the Aboriginal Children’s Service and the Aboriginal Housing Company.
Her advocacy in social welfare was focused on visiting Aboriginal prisoners, seeking shelter for children whose parents were unable to support them, and reuniting children with their parents from the stolen generation.
A story of how Shirley came to be know to all as "Mum Shirl" was that when she used to visit prisoners the guards would ask how she knew that particular prisoner.....she would say she was their mum and she would then be allowed to visit.
In 1990, Mum Shirl was named Aboriginal of the Year by NAIDOC. Mum Shirl passed on 28 April 1998.
7. Evelyn Scott
Evelyn Ruth Scott was an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social activist and educator. Evelyn is also Téa Devow's great Aunty.
Evelyn started her social justice career when she served on the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League during the 60s.
She was highly involved in the crusade for the 1967 Constitutional Referendum. Evelyn went on to be the vice president of FCAATSIm Federal Council for the advancement of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders; she pushed for FCAATSI to become an Indigenous-regulated association.
In the same period, Evelyn became active in the National Aboriginal and Islander Council. It was the first national Indigenous women’s organisation.
In the 90s, Evelyn was the governing head of the National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
Sadly, Evelyn passed on 21 September 2017 at the age of 81.
8. Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher
Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher, Thanakupi, or wattle flower, was her away, or birth ritual name.
At an early age, Thancoupie learned the sacredness of clay as she saw men in her tribe keep mud in a unique storehouse where kids were not allowed.
This made Fletcher recognise the clay’s spiritual connection to her culture, land, and language. Her interest with clay helped her become the first Aboriginal ceramic artist.
Her early years were spent as a pre-school teacher and part-time artist, and it was not until 1969, when in her mid-thirties, that she gathered the courage to move from her remote home in the Cape to the urban environment of East Sydney Technical College.
Dr Thancoupie, together with Tiwi potter Eddy Puruntatamerri, founded the Indigenous ceramic movement of Australia. Her intricately designed ceramic sculptures told old people’s stories from Weipa.
As a community leader she founded the Weipa Festival, and inspired many generations by running holiday programs to teach bush knowledge and art to younger generations
She was the first indigenous artist to have an international solo exhibition. Because of her artistic achievements, she was awarded Order of Australia in 2005.
9. Faith Thomas
Faith was a former cricketer, hockey player, and nurse.
She was the first Aboriginal woman to represent Australia in cricket.
She was also the first Aboriginal woman chosen in any national sporting team.
She was a superwoman as she was able to manage her cricket career while preparing to become a nurse in Adelaide.
Aside from having a successful sports path, Faith was the first Aboriginal to finish and become a certified nurse from the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Aside from being a successful cricket player, Thomas was also an outstanding hockey player, where she admitted that this sport has always been more important to her than cricket.
Because of Faith Thomas’ excellent sporting achievements, she became a member of the Aboriginal Sports Foundation. Faith is a proud Adnyamathanha women.
10. Rosalie “Ngarla” Kunoth-Monks
Rosalie is an Arrernte and Amatjerre woman born in Utopia, north of Alice Springs, in 1937.
Rosalie was an actress, Aboriginal activist, and a politician.
She became famous for her role in Jedda, making her the first Indigenous female lead.
Jedda was the first Australian film to be featured in Cannes. Jedda was also the first Australian film released in colour.
Making the film was an experience that would furthermore spark her advocacy in Aboriginal rights as the movie empowered her to stand up for her and her people’s freedom against the colonial outlook against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.
She has tirelessly fought for Indigenous rights, even going as far as trying to become part of the government by running as a Senate candidate in 2013.
11. Nova Peris
Nova is a famous Indigenous Australian athlete and activist.
She was a representative in the Australian Women's Hockey in the 1996 Summer Olympics.
She became the first Aboriginal Australian woman to become a successful athlete after winning an Olympic gold medal.
She proved to be a multi talented sporting star when she chose to switch to another sport, sprint, winning her another medal in 1997.
In 2013, she switched gears and changed careers to politics after being invited by Julia Gillard to join the Australian Labor Party, where she became a candidate for the Senate.
She reached another major milestone for the indigenous community when she was elected to the federal government, making her the first Indigenous woman to be elected to national parliament.
Nova is also Téa Devow's Godmother.
12. The Hon. Linda Burney
Linda was the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the Australian House of Representative in 2016 and was the first Aboriginal person to serve in the New South Wales Parliament.
Linda is of Wiradjuri descent, she began her career as a public school teacher in western Sydney in 1979. During the mid-80s, she became involved in the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.
She was an active contributor to the development of the first Aboriginal educational policy in Australia.
Linda was also an executive member of the National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, President of the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and the former Director General of the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
13. Patricia June "Pat" O'Shane
Pat O'shane is from the Kunjandji clan and was the first Aboriginal magistrate to serve in Sydney’s Local Court from 1986 until her retirement in 2013.
Patricia O’ Shane has reached great feats as a strong and proud Aboriginal women. Pat was the first Aboriginal woman to graduate with a law degree. She also became the first Aboriginal lawyer.
In one of the most defining moments of her career, she was the first Indigenous person to be the head of the New South Wales Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.
In 2001, Pat O’ Shane was awarded Centenary Medal for her exceptional duty in the Australian society and higher education.
She was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement in Leadership at the Deadly Awards in 2013.
14. Eleanor Harding
Eleanor Harding hailed from the Torres Strait Islands. Eleanor is also Téa's Great Aunty.
She was a civil rights activist who stood up for the improvement of recognition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Eleanor highly upheld women's rights and aimed for equal opportunities for education for indigenous people.
She also worked with different institutions to bring about reconciliation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
She urged for the enactment of the Aboriginal Australian Referendum of 1967, which in turn rectified the Constitution of Australia.
Eleanor was a member of the National Aboriginal and Islander's Women's Council. She advocated the Abschol movement that aimed to provide an educational scholarship scheme for Indigenous students.
Harding passed in Melbourne on 14 June 1996 and was buried on Darnley Island.
15. Essie Coffey - the Bush Queen
Essie Coffey or Essienina Shillingsworth was a Muruwari woman.
She co-founded the Western Aboriginal Legal Service and served in Aboriginal community groups and government organisations.
These government groups include the Aboriginal Lands Trust and the Aboriginal Advisory Council.
She was an initial member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, the group that established the non-profit and non-government foundation, Reconciliation Australia which promotes continuity of national focus for the accord between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
She was also one of the founders of the Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Museum.
A very talented Tidda, Essie was also a filmmaker. Her 1978 film, "My Survival as an Aboriginal," was given to Queen Elizabeth II as a gift at the declaration of Australia's New Parliament House in 1988.
16. Faith Bandler
Faith Bandler was a fearless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander civil rights activist.
During the 1950s, Faith became involved in the peace movement, and in 1956 she was the driver in setting up the Australian Aboriginal Fellowship.
Like the other women activist mentioned earlier, she was also best known for her participation in leading the campaign for the "YES" vote or the 1967 referendum for Aboriginal Australians.
Faith was also a founding representative of the Federal Council for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, being an active participant from 1967 to 1973.
Faith passed at the age of 96, in February 2015,
17. Pearl Gibbs
Pearl Gibbs was an Indigenous Australian activist and one of the most prominent female activist within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander movement in the early 20th century.
She was a member of the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA) and was involved with various protest events such as the 1938 Day of Mourning.
Tirelessy supporting and advocating for Indigenous people, Gibbs in the 1930's helped run camps to support unemployed Aboriginal workers, and in 1933 she organised a strike for Aboriginal pea-pickers.
Pearl was the first Aboriginal women to make a radio broadcast in 1941.
In 1946 along with Indigenous community member William Ferguson they established a chapter of Australian Aborigines League in Dubbo
She stayed politically active until the 70s where she built valuable connections between Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander communities and forward political bodies to advance the issues facing Indigenous people.
Gibbs passed in Dubbo in 1983.
18. Rachel Perkins
Rachel is a film and TV director, producer and screenwriter.
An Arrente woman hailing from Central Australia, she created Blackfella Films, a production company which produces documentaries and narratives for television, live theatre, and online platforms. Her areas of focus are on Indigenous Australian stories.
One of her most significant works, the seven-part documentary series First Australians, is a multi-awarded production.
Rachel was the Commissioner with the Australian Film Commission from 2004 to 2008.
She also has been on the Board of the Screen Australia since 2009.
From 2015, Perkins has held the role as the president of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Foundation. This foundation aims to raise funds and secure the future of the world's largest and significant collection of Indigenous Australian culture.
19. Megan Davis
Megan is one amazing Tidda Queen!
She's one of the brave Aboriginal activists who continue to stand up for the rights of her fellow Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
A human rights lawyer, a commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment court, a law professor and a proud Cobble Cobble Aboriginal women.
Her most important achievement to date is her appointment as Chair of a UN permanent forum. Her UN appointment made her the first Indigenous Australian to ever sit in a UN body.
Megan's current area of focus are the area's of sentencing laws, Constitutional Design and Deliberation; and Violence against Aboriginal Women
20. Dr Anita Heiss
One of Téa&Belle's favourite Tidda Queens, Dr Anita Heiss is an Australian author and a creative writer working with a wide ranges themes and topics.
An advocate of Indigenous literature, she’s also a mentor and role model for the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy, an Advocate for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and lastly an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador.
Anita is a proud Wiradjuri women from central NSW,
Anita has a PhD In Communications and Media from the University of Western Sydney.
This year, Anita was appointed to the State Library of Queensland board.
21. Bronwyn Bancroft
Bronwyn Bancroft is a notable Aboriginal artists and was the first Australian fashion designer ever to be invited to showcase her designs in Paris.
She also promoted other Aboriginal artworks when she opened a fabric store in 1985 where Aboriginal artists-made materials where showcased.
Bronwyn was one of 10 urban artists who founded the Aboriginal Artists Cooperative, the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative, in 1987.
During the 1990s, she twice served on the board of National Gallery of Australia.
Bronwyn became the Chair of the Visual Arts Board of the NSW Ministry for the Arts. Bancroft's philanthropic goals include being the director of the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience AIME a not-for-profit organisation aiming to increase senior high school and university admission rates for Indigenous students.
22. Emily Kame Kngwarreye
Internationally Acclaimed artist, Emily hailed from the Utopia community in the Northern Territory.
She’s one of the most significant contemporary Australian artists.
Although she started late with painting, she was a creative artist who didn't rush her work and worked at a pace that would contradict her old age.In eight years, she's painted 3000 paintings or an average of one-painting a day.
Just like many other Aboriginal artists, her paintings focused on the cultural life as an Anmatyerre elder.
In the 90s, she's had two one-woman shows, and received government fellowship in 1992.
Her painting, "The Earth's Creation" was purchased for the Mbantua Gallery & Cultural Museum for $1,056,000, a record for her Aboriginal artwork.
Despite the money she made as an artist, she's continued to live a traditional life and shared her wealth with her community.
Emily passed away on the 2nd of September 1996.
23. Evonne Goolagong Cawley
Evonne is a proud Wiradjuri women who rose to fame when she became the first Aboriginal Australian to win the 1971 Wimbledon Tennis Championship.
Throughout the 70s until the early 80s, Evonne was considered as one of the world's most successful tennis players.
She started playing tennis at a very young age under the coaching supervision of Vic Edwards in 1961. Through her consistent hard work and perseverance to improve her sporting skills, it's no wonder Evonne won 14 Grand slam Titles in her career.
Evonne has been Australian of the Year and Australian Sportsman of the Year. Evonne was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport Rhode Island in 1988 and the following year, into the Aboriginal Sporting Hall of Fame.
Since 2005, Evonne has run the Goolagong National Development Camp for Indigenous girls and boys. Using tennis as a vehicle to promote better health, education and employment, the program has awarded school scholarships, produced university scholars, tennis players, coaches, and sports administrators.
24. Lowitja O’Donoghue
Lowitja O'Donoghue is a Yankunytjatjara woman from South Australia.
Lowitja began her career as a domestic at the age of sixteen. In this position she was encouraged to become a nursing aide. Even though she had experience with helping and attending to patients in a local hospital, she was still refused to extend her qualifications because of her Aboriginal heritage to become a nurse.
This refusal sparked her political activism when she fought to overturn the original decision of the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
She won the fight, and she eventually became the first Aboriginal nurse in South Australia.
in 1967 Lowitja then went on to work as a Welfare Officer for the SA Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Lowitja moved quickly through the ranks to become Director of the Department.
Dr O'Donoghue was appointed the founding Chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) In March 1990. During her time in this key role she was given the role of drafting the Native Title legislation that arose from the High Court’s historic Mabo decision.
Dr O’Donoghue has received numerous awards and accolades for her work. She was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1983 and Australian of the Year in 1984, during which time she became the ﬁrst Aboriginal person to address the United Nations General Assembly. She won the Advance Australia Award in 1982, was named a National Living Treasure in 1998, and awarded Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 1999 and Dame of the Order of St Gregory the Great (DSG), a Papal Award, in 2005.
An Honorary Fellow of both the Royal Australian College of Physicians and the Royal College of Nursing, Dr O’Donoghue also holds an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the Australian National University and Notre Dame University, and an Honorary Doctorate from Flinders University, Australian National University, University of South Australia and Queensland University of Technology. She has also been a Professorial Fellow at Flinders University since 2000.
25. Samantha Harris
Samantha Harris is an Aboriginal Australian fashion model from the Dunghutti tribe
Her unique beauty is a combination of Indigenous, Dutch, English, and German heritage.
She started her career with a beauty pageant at the age of five. When she was only 11 years young, she was nominated by the Dolly Magazine's, model workshop as the 'Model Most Likely to Succeed.'
It was in 2004 when she joined another modelling competition at 13 years old that she signed her first modelling contract with Chic Model Management.
Since then, Samantha has been slaying the runway. In 2010, she was given the opportunity every model's coveted, being on the cover of a Vogue magazine.
Samantha is using her profile to become an ambassador for the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) in Sydney.
26. Shareena Clanton
Born on 9 June 1990, Shareena Clanton is an Australian actress for theatre, TV, and film.
Shareena grew up in Perth, Western Australia and is from Wongatha/Yamatji/Noongar/Gitja people. She has Australian-African heritage, she is also a twin. Her twin sister Shakira is also a deadly Tidda.
She's well known for giving life to the character Doreen Anderson in the drama series Wentworth. She has also starred in Last Cab to Darwin (2015) and Redfern Now (2012). Shareena is a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and began her acting career through modelling and apprearing in various product ads.
Shareena has a long list of awards for her acting, 2012 AACTA Awards Nomination Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama in Redfern Now, 2011. Sydney Theatre Awards Nomination Best Newcomer, 2013 Logie Awards winner for Most Outstanding Drama in Redfern Now.
27. Carla McGrath
Carla McGrath is a Fabulous Torres Strait Islander woman.
Her role models are inspired by strong, confident Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Her vision is providing the same level of opportunities and choices that non-Indigenous are enjoying can be experienced by the Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.
28. Jessica Mauboy
Jessica Hilda Mauboy was born on 4th August 1989 in Northern Territory and is from the KuKu Yalanji people.
Jessica is a Singer, songwriter, actress and performer and has sold over 1.7 million singles in Australia.
Jessica shot to fame when she was as a runner-up on the fourth season of Australian Idol, she was then signed by Sony Music Australia.
Despite her stardom, Jessica has used her social status to support different not-for-profit organisations and charities in Australia.
Jessica has sold over 2.5 million units in Australia, achieved fourteen Top 30 hit singles from three studio albums, four ARIA Platinum selling albums and received numerous awards including the 2014 ARIA Award for Best Female artist and the 2012 ARIA Award for Best Pop Release.
In 2010 Jessica included actress to her title when she made her film debut in the Australian film musical Bran Nue Dae. This was followed with a starring role in the internationally celebrated and multi award winning feature The Sapphires. .
Jessica has performed with international artists including Beyoncé, Flo Rida and Chris Brown and has performed for celebrities, dignitaries and presidents including Barak Obama, as well as on the shows of both Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres.
Jessica also became one of few notable Australians to feature on the iconic Sesame Street when she filmed the Five Kangaroo’s in Alice Springs with some of the students from the Yipirinya School.
In 2014 Jessica made history when she was invited to perform as a guest at the Eurovision Song Contest in Denmark, being the first non-European solo artist to do so. This followed a performance at the Official Flag Handover Ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Jessica is currently appearing in Channel 7 series "The Secret Daughter".
29. Ella Havelka
Corps De Ballet dancer Ella Havelka was born in Dubbo and a strong and Inspiring Wiradjuri women.
Ella was the first Aboriginal dancer to perform in the Australian Ballet.
Hard work, determination, and passion, Ella is changing the face of the traditional ballerina. Ella performed in Australia and New York with the Bangarra Dance company. Ella starred in the The Australian Ballet 'Warumuk – in the dark night', a collaborative work created by Stephen Page for The Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
The documentary "Ella" centring on her journey to become a dancer was released at the 2016
Melbourne International Film Festival.
When she's not on her tippy toes, her favourite activity to relax is to weave traditional baskets, and keeping in touch with her Aboriginal culture.
30. Tanya Orman
A Birri and Guugu Yimidihrr woman from North Queensland, Tanya is also one of the most successful Aboriginal women in a leadership role in media in Australia.
Tanya has embarked on her career after she finished her BA in Communications and Journalism from the Central Queensland University.
Tanya has worked as a journalist and producer for Australian Broadcasting Corporation and SBS, a multicultural and multilingual broadcaster. Through this job, she was able to bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders' stories to the non-indigenous and mainstream audience of Australia
Today, she is the Channel and Program Manager for the National Indigenous Television (NITV).
31. Leah Purcell
Leah Purcell was born on 14 August 1970 in Murgon, Queensland. Leah's mum was a Goa Gungurri Wakka Wakka woman.
Leah is a lauded Australian actress, director, and writer.
A strong and Inspiring Tidda Queen who was the youngest of six children. As the youngest, Purcell learned how to defend herself—by sparring with her dad's boxing students. Her love of acting started at a young age when she would put on plays at the Aboriginal mission where the family lived.
Becoming a single mother at age 18 and at 20 fleeing a violent boyfriend and her own alcohol habit of which she speaks openly about, Leah moved with her daughter Amanda to Brisbane. Within weeks, she was singing in a band, starring in the Aboriginal musical Bran Nue Dae, and hosting on Australia’s television music channel, RED.
Since then nothing has stopped Leah being the creative genius that she is. her list of achievements are too many to mention. If you would like to read more about this amazing women click here
32. Narelle Long
Narelle is a respected Indigenous AFL figure, being a program coordinator for the national league.
One of her greatest feats came when she and Malcolm Lynch represented Australia in an international youth summit in 2010 held in Antarctica.
They were the first Indigenous Australians to join the summit. They both worked as climate ambassadors. They documented the results of climate change on their traditional land through a documentary called The Tipping Points - Oceans: The Last Frontier.
33. Marcia Ella-Duncan
Marcia was born and raised at La Perouse in Sydney. Marcia is a descendant of the Yuin nation on the NSW far south coast.
Marcia made history when she became the first Aboriginal woman to represent Australia in netball.
Marcia is also a committed advocate especially in the areas of criminal justice, safety and well being and Community development. Marcia was also inducted into the Australian Netball Hall of Fame.
34. Olive Brown
Olive Brown was an inspiration Aboriginal women who was the founder of Winnunga Nimmityjah health service in Canberra.
As a founder of the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, Olive Brown was the driving force along with Dr Peter Sharp to improve Indigenous peoples health in the Canberra region.
After training as a teacher's aid at Sydney University, Olive worked for the Rural Bank. Olive's natural beauty both inside and out led her to be asked to model for the Australian Wool Board and David Jones in the 1960s. She starred as part of a 'bunch of Australian beauties — blondes and brunettes, outdoorsy or sophisticated, of European or indigenous stock' in a 1969 feature called 'Beautiful Australians' in the Womens Weekly magazine.
Olive legacy lives on with Winnunga being the only Aboriginal health service in Canberra.
35. Dr Lisa Waia
Dr Lisa Waia grew up at the tip of Cape York in the town of Bamaga. Dr Waia can trace her heritage back to Sabai Island which is the furtherest island my mainland Australia in the Torres Strait.
She first studied Medical laboratory science before being accepted into medicine.
Dr Waia moved schools eight times as her family traveled around far north Queensland
36. Deborah Mailman
Deborah is one of five children born to well known and respected Indigenous stockman Wally Mailman and Jane (Heeni) Mailman. Deborah has both Aboriginal (Bidjara) and Maori Heritage. Deborah graduated in 1992 from Queensland University with a Bachelor of arts majoring in Performing Arts.
Deborah's first film debut was the film Radiance which she played Nona, one of my favourite films. Since this debut Deborah's career has been prolific and extensive. From much loved TV shows such as "Secret life of us" "Redfern Now" "Black comedy" and Play School". Her film career has been just as illustrious, appearing in Bran Nue Dae, The Sapphires, Rabbit Proof Fence, Paper Planes and the voice of Blinky Bill's mother in the animated film Blinky Bill The Movie
37. Vinka Barunga
Vinka's family are the Woorora people from the Kimberley in the north of Western Australia, Born in Derby and living the first years of her life in the Aboriginal community of Mowanjum. Vinka witnessed serious health conditions of many of her people and from a young age wanted to become a doctor to help her community.
Vinka graduated last year (2016) and is now working as a doctor at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth.
38. Catherine Freeman
Cathy Freeman was born in Mackay, Queensland in 1973. Cathy was one of five children to Norman & Cecilia Freeman.
Cathy Freeman began athletics at the age of 2. Her stepfather, Bruce Barber was her first coach. By her early teens she had a collection of regional and national titles, having competed in the 100 m, 200m, high jump and long jump.
Cathy was chosen in 1990 as a member of Australia's 4 x 100 m Relay for the 1990 Commonwealth Games. The team won and made Cathy the first Aboriginal Commonwealth games medalist, she was only 16. After returning from the Commonwealth games Cathy moved to Melbourne to be coached by Peter Fortune who would be her coach for the rest of her career.
In 1994 Cathy entered the worlds elite in track and field. In the Commonwealth games in 1994, Cathy won gold for 200m and 40m, silver in the 4 x 100 m In 1997 she won the 100m at the world championships in Athens with a time of 49.77 seconds.
After retirement for sport Kathy set up the Kathy Freeman Foundation, the vision of the Cathy Freeman Foundation is simple but ambitious: An Australia where Indigenous and non-Indigenous children have the same education standards and opportunities in life.
39. Terri Jenke
Terri is also a published author with Butterfly song being her first novel
40. Sally Morgan
Sally Morgan was born in Perth and raised by her mum and grandmother. When Sally was 15, she learnt of her aboriginal heritage, this became the background story of her book, My Place.
My Place became a preeminent piece of writing and told the story of the Stolen Generation. My Place has sold over half a million copies.
Sally's other books include Wanamurraganya, which is the biography of her grandfather. In partnership with illustrator Bronwyn Bancroft she has also written children's books including Dan's Grandpa.
Sally is also the director at the Centre for Indigenous History and Arts at the University of WA.
Sally's family are the Bailgu people of the Pilbara Region of WA.
41. Keelen Mailman
Born in Augathella QLD, Keelan became the first Aboriginal women to run a commercial cattle station, Mt Tabor Station at the age of 30. Keelan a single mother and kinship carer also won Barnardos mum of the year in 2016.
Keenan is also a best selling author and her books such as Power of Bones which tells her story of growing up in Central Australia.
43. Aunty Joyce Donovan
Joyce felt so strongly about unveiling the scourge of child abuse that she travelled all over NSW, sleeping on floors and living out of her car, gaining support for marches against child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities
Following the success of the walks and the Purple Ribbon Project she was asked to coordinate an annual candle vigil to recognise that there will be no more silence over child abuse.
She travelled thousands of miles conducting healing ceremonies for victims of domestic violence and bringing her message that it takes a whole community to raise a child.
Joyce has worked tirelessly for more than thirty-five years and was the driving force behind the establishment of an Aboriginal Medical Service in Wollongong.
44. Maurita Cavanough
Maurita Cananough is the director of the Jarjum Centre Inc., an Aboriginal pre-school in Lismore.
A proud and strong Bunjalung Woman she is well known in her community for her community development approach to teaching and early childcare learning.
Maurita was selected for Oxfam's Straight Talk Program in 2016.
46. Kathleen Jean Mary Walker
Lance Corporal Kathleen Jean Mary (Kath) Walker who in later years took her Traditional name Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Oodgeroo meaning paperbark and Noonuccal the name of her people.
Kath was born on the 3rd November 1920, on North Stradbroke Island, country of the Noonuccal tribe
Kath Walker went into the army in 1942 and held the position Lance Corporal Kathleen Jean Mary (Kath) Walker. Kath was a communication worker with the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS)
Kath went onto to become the first Indigenous published poet with her book of poems, We are going. A prolific author Kath wrote many fiction and non fiction works:
She was appointed an order to the British empire in 1970 though returned it in 1987 in protest of the Australian Bicentenary celebrations, and to make a political statement at the condition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
47. Kathleen Petyarre
Born at Atnangkere, 240 km north east of Alice Springs, Kathleen belongs to the Alyawarre/eastern Anmatyerre Clan. An Influential Artists known for her style that uses layering of very fine dots onto the canvas. This style is to evoke the Aboriginal Custom of ceremonial body painting, this constructs abstract landscapes that reveal amazing depth when viewed up close.
Kathleen draws mostly of her dreaming Ancestor, Arnkerrth, The Old Women Mountain Devil. She describes her paintings as “like looking down on my country during the hot time, when the country changes colour. I love to make the painting like it’s moving, travelling, but it’s still our body painting, still our ceremony
Her art has been acquired by The Louvre, National Gallery of Australia, Stamford University, The Art Gallery of NSW, The John W. Kluge Collection, Charlottesville, Robert Holmes à Court Collection and many more
48. Grace Carberry
She is not an artist, activist or famous sporting hero. In fact she is cheeky, sometimes naughty and down right frustrating at times. But she is my Tidda Queen and I love her.
She is a women that has experienced unimagined trauma and sadness but she has a tenacity to keep going when many would give up. She is a community development worker (though she doesn't know it), a Warrior gate keeper that protects her community and her children and someone who has a sense of humour that could give most comedians a run for their money,
This is my Tidda Queen, Grace Carberry - Sally
49. Narelle King
One of the strongest woman Dion and I know, Narelle King has had to deal with heartache, from the loss of her oldest daughter Maria, to the tragic loss of her son Steven Freeman whilst he was in custody.
Narelle epitomises what a mother is: A protector, disciplinarian and friend. As a mother I have witnessed her selfless acts, her loving nature and her sacrifices.
This proud women's number one priority has always been her children and grandchildren and we both have the utmost respect for Narelle King.
50. My mum, Lyn Devow
My mother worked as a cleaner at Jingili primary school which was also the school I attended.
She cleaned and put herself through university to become a teacher. She worked as a teacher in schools and Universities and today at 74 is still teaching Indigenous Pre-school kids in northern Queensland.
My Mum is my Tidda Queen, Dion Devow