Pat O'Shane

Patricia June O'Shane (b.1941) was a Queensland teacher who decided that Aborigines needed their own lawyers. Studying in Sydney, she became the first female Aboriginal barrister in 1976. She headed the New South Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs in 1981-86 before being appointed a Local Court magistrate. She sees herself as equally committed to the rights of women and of Indigenous Australians.


6 February 1976

Female firsts in the judiciary

Pat O’Shane is admitted to the Bar, becoming Australia’s first female Aboriginal barrister. Later that year, Justice Elizabeth Evatt is the first woman to be appointed as Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia.


Portrait of Ms Pat O’Shane.