Justine Saunders

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Justine Saunders
Justine Saunders in a scene from Number 96.jpg
Justine Saunders as Rhonda Jackson in a scene from Number 96
Justine Florence Saunders

20 February 1953
Died15 April 2007(2007-04-15) (aged 54)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Years active19742002
Awards Order of Australia
Red Ochre Award

Justine Florence Saunders, OAM, returned in 2000 (20 February 1953 – 15 April 2007) was an Australian stage, television and film actress. She was a member of the Woppaburra, an Australian Aboriginal people, from the Kanomie clan of Great Keppel Island in Queensland. She was born next to a railway track. At the age of 11, as a member of the Stolen Generation, she was removed from her mother Heather and taken to Brisbane and placed in a convent. Heather was not told of Justine's whereabouts for more than ten years, and spent much of that time searching for her. On the small screen she appeared in numerous series, mini-series and telemovies.


Screen roles

Saunders having started her career in theatre, made her screen debut in the television serial Rush in 1974, but first came to prominence as a cast member of soap opera Number 96 in 1976, as Rhonda Jackson. a character defending the rights of indigenous Australians. Subsequently in 1986 she became best known for her role as social worker Pamela Madigan in the serial Prisoner

Other television credits include: Skyways , Women of the Sun (1981), Farscape , Blue Heelers , and MDA .

Her film work includes The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and The Fringe Dwellers .

National Order of Australia Medal

Saunders received the inaugural Aboriginal Artist of the Year award in 1985. [1]

In 1991, Saunders was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), for her services to the performing arts, her services to the National Aboriginal Theatre, and for her assistance in setting up the Black Theatre and the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust.

In 2000, through the indigenous Senator Aden Ridgeway, she returned the medal in protest at the emotional turmoil her mother was suffering over the Howard government's denial of the term "stolen generation".

In April 2007, Saunders died of cancer at Hawkesbury District Hospital, Sydney, aged 54. [2] [3]



Rush (TV series)1974Werowey
Essington (TV movie)1974
Ben Hall (TV series)1975Jununji
Lukes Kingdom (TV series)1976Aboriginal girl
Number 96 (TV series)1976Rhonda Jackson
Pig in a Poke (TV series)1977Maureen
The Cake Man (TV movie)1977
The Death Train (TV movie)1978Greg's wife
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (film)1978Nancy
Against the Wind (TV miniseries)1978Ngilgi
Top Mates (TV series)1979
Skyways (TV series)1979Flight attendant Helen Smith
Women of the Sun (TV miniserial)Merida Anderson
Silent Reach (TV miniseries)1983Allison Burnie
Chase Through the Night (TV movie)1983Mary
Mail Order Bride (TV movie)1984Iris
Charleys Web (TV movie)1986Joan Lynch
The Fringe Dwellers 1986Mollie Comeaway
Prisoner: Cell Block H (TV series)1986Pamela Madigan
A Country Practice (TV series)1987Brenda Dwyer - episode part 1 and 2; Birds of Prey
The First Australians (TV series)1988Co-presenter
Touch the Sun: Top Enders (TV movie)1988Elva
Until the End of the World1991Maisie
G.P. 1992Dolly
The Flying Doctors 1989-1992Bessie (1989)/Magistrate Krum (1992)
Jindadee Lady1992
Heartland (TV mini-series)1994Millie Carmichael
House Gang1996President of Australia
The Tower (TV movie)1997Louise
The Violent Earth (TV mini-series)1998Aunt Junie
Farscape (TV series)2000Altana
Blue Heelers (TV series)Annie Baker
MDA (TV series)2002Ruby McKinnon

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  1. "Aboriginal award for actress". The Canberra Times . 60 (18, 239). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 7 September 1985. p. 3. Retrieved 11 August 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  2. Carman, Gerry (18 April 2007). "A fight against the stereotype". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 April 2007.Obituary.
  3. Obituary "Aboriginal actress who broke stereotypes", by Gerry Carman and Pauline Clague, The Age , 17 April 2007.
  4. It's an Honour website
  5. Red Ochre Award Archived 1 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine