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Rankine, Dorothy Leila (1932 - 1993)

Point McLeay?, South Australia
Aboriginal Administrator, Aboriginal community worker, Educator and Musician


Dorothy Leila Rankine, of Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna descent, grew up at Raukkan (Point McLeay) on Lake Alexandrina in South Australia. Her lifelong involvement with music and singing began with her family and the local Salvation Army church. She later became a soldier of the Salvation Army. After completing only primary education she moved to Adelaide in 1965, where she joined the Aboriginal Women's Council and later the Port Adelaide Aboriginal Friendship Club.

In 1972 Rankine became a founding member of the Adelaide Aboriginal Orchestra, which later developed into the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM), of which she was chairperson until her retirement in 1986. She acted as counsellor, liaising with the local Aboriginal community and organising annual camps and concerts. She edited and contributed poems to the journal Tjungaringanyi; was elected chairperson of the urban committee; and was an active singer, trombonist and speaker. She appeared in the films Sister, If You Only Knew (1975) and Wrong Side of the Road (1980).

Dorothy Leila Rankine served on the boards of the Aboriginal Community College, the Aboriginal Community Centre, and the Aboriginal Sobriety Group. She was a member of the Australia Council, the Aboriginal Artists Agency in Sydney, and the Aborigines Advancement League of South Australia, and was a life board member of Warriappendi Alternative School. She contributed to Aboriginal education curriculum materials for South Australian schools, told Ngarrindjeri stories on ABC television, and was one of the founders of Camp Coorong, a Ngarrindjeri cultural centre.

Sources used to compile this entry: Horton, David (ed.). The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Vol. 2, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1994, pp. 928-9.

Archival resources

AIATSIS Film Collection

Leonarda Kovacic and Barbara Lemon

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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