Image Source: The West Australian

Message from the Governor: Vale Aunty May Lorna O’Brien BEM

20 May 1932 – 1 March 2020

The COVID-19 domination of our minds means I missed the passing away at age 87 of a woman who meant a lot in life to many in this State, and that included me.

Aunty May was a great Aboriginal educator whose forceful courage and luck enabled her to break out of the barriers around her. She would go on to obtain teaching qualifications which in turn would lead into advisory and administrative roles which put her in 1998 into the Department of Education’s Hall of Fame.

“Aunty” is a title bestowed on senior women in the matrilineal character of Aboriginal society but I grew up calling her Aunty in the familial sense of the broader society. She and her then husband Jack were close friends of my parents and she stayed with us from time to time before she was married.

Later, her passion for her people and her profession saw her a great bureaucratic fighter. Particularly against facets of testing arrangements that were culturally biased. She was awarded a BEM in the old honours system. She was a Churchill Fellow and in 1991 became a fellow at Edith Cowan University.

She was full of love and without bitterness. She taught us all that we are privileged to share this land with the oldest civilisation on earth. One normally says on these occasions that we will not see her like again. Actually, we will. We will because she devoted herself to producing a good articulate people who would stand up for themselves and their community.


View all Articles
Skip to content