First woman to head a government department – Pat O’Shane

Pat O'Shane. Image courtesy National Library of Australia.

When Patricia O’Shane was appointed permanent head of the New South Wales Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs in 1981, she became not only the first Aboriginal person but also the first woman to become a permanent head of ministry in Australia. Pat O’Shane was also the first Aboriginal Australian barrister (1976) and the first woman to be appointed to the New South Wales Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board (1979). (Source: Australian Women’s Register)

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