Pat Dodson

For the baseball player, see Pat Dodson (baseball).
Patrick Dodson
Senator for Western Australia
Assumed office
2 May 2016
Preceded by Joe Bullock
Personal details
Born (1948-01-20) 20 January 1948
Broome, WA, Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party

Patrick Lionel Djargun Dodson (born 20 January 1948) is a Yawuru man from Broome, Western Australia, the former chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, a former Commissioner into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, former Roman Catholic priest and a Senator for Western Australia. He was the winner of the 2008 Sydney Peace Prize the 2009 John Curtin Medallist.[1] His brother is Mick Dodson, also a national Indigenous Australian leader.

On 2 March 2016, it was announced that Dodson would be endorsed as a replacement for Joe Bullock as a Labor Senator for Western Australia, following Bullock's resignation.[2] The Parliament of Western Australia appointed Dodson to the Australian Senate on 2 May 2016.[3]


Dodson was born on 20 January 1948 in Broome.[4] His father, Snowy Dodson, was Irish-Australian and his mother, Patricia, was indigenous Australian. The family moved to Katherine in the Northern Territory when Pat was two, to escape Western Australian laws about mixed-race families.[5]

The Dodson children were orphaned at the deaths of both parents only three months apart in 1960.[5] He and his brother Mick were made wards of the state, but their aunt and uncle decided they should accept a scholarship to study at Monivae College in Hamilton, Victoria, where Dodson became head prefect and captain of football.[1] After completing his schooling, Patrick enrolled to study for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College, Melbourne and was ordained in the order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in May 1975. He later left the priesthood due to conflict over the balance and blend of Catholicism and Aboriginal spiritual belief.[4][6]

He holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Melbourne and an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of New South Wales.

He lives in Broome where he is also involved in matters relating to the preservation and enhancement of indigenous rights and culture.


Some of the prominent roles and positions Dodson has held include:[7]

In 2012 he gave the inaugural Gandhi Oration at the University of New South Wales.[11]


The Parliament of Western Australia appointed Dodson to fill a casual vacancy in the Australian Senate on 2 May 2016, following the resignation of Joe Bullock. He was sworn in as a senator on 2 May 2016 as an Australian Labor senator. He retained his seat in the Australian federal election, 2016 held on 2 July 2016.[12]


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