Sir Douglas Nicholls KCVO OBE JP

A trailblazer who won hearts around the nation.

1906-1988

The achievements of Sir Douglas Nicholls are many and varied, taking in the fields of sport, politics and social justice. He broke new ground — as the first Indigenous Australian to receive a knighthood in 1972, and the first to be appointed to vice-regal office, when he became Governor of South Australia in 1976.

For all the recognition and honours, it was for his modesty that Sir Doug was equally famed. He never shied away from exposing the realities of prejudice and inequality. By the end of his life in 1988, Sir Doug was credited with helping to return a sense of pride and hope to people who had lost both. That he enacted real change for the better is unquestionable and a statue in Parliament Gardens in Melbourne attests to his status as one of Australia's truly influential figures of the 20th century.