Video Lowitja O'Donoghue, 1994: the Stolen Generations

TLF ID M008315

This clip shows Lowitja O'Donoghue talking about her name and about being removed from her mother at the age of two, the youngest child in her family. She says that Lois, the name she went by when she was younger, was a biblical name that had been given to her by the missionaries after she was removed from her mother. As an adult, she changed her name back to Lowitja. She says that O'Donoghue was her father's surname and that she never met him. He had emigrated from Ireland to Australia, where he became a station manager. This clip is an excerpt from 'Lowitja O'Donoghue' (26 min), an episode of 'Australian biography' series 3, produced in 1994.

Educational details

Educational value
  • Lowitja O'Donoghue is a Pitjantjatjara woman and a member of the Stolen Generations. She was born in 1932 in Iwantja (Indulkana) in central Australia. Her mother was a Pitjantjatjara woman and her father Irish. At the age of two, O'Donoghue was taken from her mother, and she did not see her again for 33 years. After being removed, she was given the name 'Lois' and was forbidden from speaking her own language. As an adult, she changed her name back to Lowitja.
  • O'Donoghue was one of many Indigenous children separated from their families. In 1869, the first Aboriginal Protection Act was passed in Victoria, with other Australian colonies following. This was the first formal government policy authorising the separation of children from their families. At the time, the laws were said to protect Indigenous people from the effects of colonisation and settlement through segregation, by creating reserves and relocating Indigenous communities. 'Protectors' were appointed and given significant control over the lives of Indigenous people. Children who were separated from their families were placed under the protector's legal guardianship, and often never saw their parents again.
  • In 1997, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission conducted a formal independent inquiry - the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families. The report from the inquiry is known as the 'Bringing them home' report. It extensively documents the experiences and ongoing effects of these government policies and practices over many years, on many families and individuals across the country.
  • In 2008, the then prime minister, Kevin Rudd, issued an apology on past mistreatment of Indigenous Australians in the Australian Parliament, including a specific apology to the Stolen Generations and their families.
Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: National Film and Sound Archive
  • Organization: National Film and Sound Archive
  • Description: content provider
  • Address: ACT, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Publisher
  • Name: National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA)
  • Organization: National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA)
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: ACT, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Video
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Film and Sound Archive, 2011 (except where otherwise indicated). You may view, display, print out and copy this material for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.