SPA mourns loss of Lowitja O’Donohue

5 February 2024

Media Releases 2024


Sustainable Population Australia is mourning the loss of its former trustee, Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, who died in Adelaide yesterday.

Dr O’Donohue was the inaugural chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and patron of the Lowitja Institute, a research institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

SPA national president Jenny Goldie says her organisation was very proud to have her as a trustee for a few years in the early 2000s.

“Her accepting the position as a trustee indicated she endorsed our aims of achieving an ecologically sustainable population nationally and globally,” says Ms Goldie.

“Lowitja understood that population growth in Australia since European occupation had wrought untold damage on the natural environment on which we all depend.

“She was a woman of great integrity who managed to overcome the disadvantages of childhood in which she was removed from her Aboriginal mother at the age of two.

“She was always calm, never bitter, and a great Indigenous leader. We are grateful for having been connected to her for a few years at least,” says Ms Goldie.

In her evidence to the Jones Inquiry into Carrying Capacity in 1994, Dr O’Donoghue said: “For Aboriginal people today, as in 1788, the land is not merely a resource to be exploited, a commodity to be traded; it is life itself….The Standing Committee’s reference scenario for the year 2045 has only worse to come – a population almost doubled in size, taking over more and more of the best land for housing, suffering greater pollution and congestion, and natural resources under increased threat of depletion and degradation. Such a prospect must be alarming for all Australians. For indigenous Australians it is doubly so, because the damage that will inevitably be caused to the land threatens the heart of our culture and our way of being.”

Scroll to Top