Please note, this story contains the name of someone who has passed away.


It was with great sadness that we heard of the recent passing of Indigenous author, educator and policy-maker, Ms May O’Brien.

One of our earliest ambassadors, Ms O'Brien's enthusiasm and dedication to literacy and education impacted innumerable children and adults in Australia.

Ms O'Brien has a lifelong passion for learning which she wanted all Indigenous children to share. As an ambassador for our Foundation, she helped to put our visions into practise, and believed strongly in the right for all children to learn to read.

Belonging to the Wongatha people of Western Australia and educated on the remote Mount Margaret mission, Ms O'Brien became the first female Aboriginal teacher in Western Australia.

Fulfilling her dream to become an educator, she returned to the Mount Margaret mission to teach. As an educator for over 25 years, she fought for Aboriginal rights and helped create opportunities for her people, bridging the gap between cultures.

Ms O'Brien helped establish Aboriginal committees on education around Western Australia and worked on the first report into Aboriginal education.

Her contribution was acknowledged in 1977 when she received the British Empire Medal for work in Aboriginal education.

In 1984 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study programs in the USA, Canada and Great Britain that focused on enabling Indigenous peoples to retain their own cultures.

Following her retirement, Ms O'Brien wrote numerous bilingual children’s books that feature her Wongatha language. We will miss her passion, love of reading, and continue to look to her as an inspiration for all that we do. Vale.

You can find and order her books here.

  • Posted 01 April, 2020

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