Dr Lilla Watson

“I don’t like to think of it as a struggle, but as a voice for justice.”

Dr Lilla Watson is an Indigenous artist, writer, educator and researcher who has spent her life working to secure justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Dr Watson came from her home in Gangulu country in Central Queensland to Brisbane in 1965. She began her involvement with UQ in 1973 as a student and in 1979 she became the University’s first Indigenous tutor, and went on to lecture in Aboriginal Welfare Studies in 1984. In 1987, she received her Bachelor of Arts.

During her time at UQ, Dr Watson worked on a landmark state-wide research project investigating Aboriginal and Islander Child Welfare in Queensland, the findings of which went on to inform policy and were later legally enshrined in the Child Protection Act 1999.

Dr Watson has used her knowledge and skills to aid in Reconciliation and advancing the wellbeing and rights of Indigenous peoples across the community through a range of programs, including co-founding LinkUp, an agency working to reunite Stolen Generation Children, and BlackCard, which provides cultural education via workshops, consultancy and other resources.

She has worked with and advocated for many other programs, and has spoken internationally on a range of Indigenous issues.

She cites her love for her family, culture and community as the motivating force for her work.


Indigenous Community Impact Award


Bachelor of Arts