The Hawke Centre is honoured to have the support of patrons who collectively have contributed significantly to Australian society and to our world. The Hawke Centre’s patrons enthusiastically embrace its agenda to promote public understanding of the issues that shape human affairs, both within Australia and beyond.

International patron

Professor Mary McAleese

Mary McAleeseMary McAleese served as President of Ireland from 1997 until 2011, and was the first President to come from Northern Ireland. Distancing herself from what was considered to be intractable violence, McAleese committed her Presidency to peace and reconciliation, describing the theme of her Presidency as ‘Building Bridges’.

She has worked as a Barrister and as a journalist. With a strong commitment to social justice, she has served on various boards including Co-Chair of the Working Party on Sectarianism.

She is the author of Reconciled being: Love in chaos (1997), Building Bridges (2011), Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law (2014). She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. She has several honorary doctorates, including from the University of South Australia.

McAleese presented the 2014 UniSA Nelson Mandela lecture, discussing her involvement in the Irish peace process.

National patrons

Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC
Governor of South Australia 


Frances Adamson

Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC is a proud sixth-generation South Australian. In June 2021 Her Excellency was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to public administration through the advancement of Australia's diplomatic, trade and cultural interests, particularly with the People's Republic of China and the Indo-Pacific region, to innovative foreign policy development and high level program delivery, and as the 36th Governor appointed in South Australia. Adamson was sworn in Governor of South Australia on 7 October 2021.


The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG

Michael Kirby

A former High Court Judge, the Hon. Michael Kirby is a renowned human rights expert and defender, both nationally and internationally. He is also admired for his sustained leadership and advocacy of social and legal reform. He has served on many national and international bodies, including the UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia.


The Hon Sir Eric Neal AC CVO FTSE

Sir Eric Neal

A former Governor of South Australia, The Hon Sir Eric Neal has made significant contributions to both business and society throughout his long and eminent career. A Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia, he went on to become one of Australia’s most successful corporate leaders. His archival collection is held by the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library.

Professor Lowitja O’Donoghue AC CBE DSG

Foundation Patron

Lowitja O'Donoghue

Professor O’Donoghue most notably served as the inaugural Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). In this role she cemented her reputation for sound and able leadership. The Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Institute for ATSI Health Research, was named in her honour. Her archival collection is held by the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library.

Mrs Imelda Roche AO

Imelda Roche

Imelda Roche has contributed to Australian society in business leadership and performance. With her husband, Bill, Mrs Roche established Nutrimetics International (Australia) Pty Limited in 1968, and, in 1991, acquired the worldwide interests of Nutrimetics International. In 1993 she was appointed Chair of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations – a first for a woman and an Australian.

Past patrons

The Hawke Centre honour the contribution of our past patrons, recognising their support with gratitude. Our past patrons include:

The late Rt Hon Sir Zelman Cowen AK GCMG GCVO QC DCL

The late Dr Basil Hetzel AC

The late Dame Roma Mitchell AC DBE CVO

The late Rt Hon Sir Ninian Stephen KG AK GCMG GCVO KBE KstJ QC

The late Nelson Mandela - First International Patron, 2001-2013

Nelson Mandela

The late Nelson Mandela served as the Hawke Centre's first International Patron from 2001-2013. The UniSA Nelson Mandela series was named in his honour.

The patronage of Nelson Mandela, one of the twentieth century’s outstanding humanitarian leaders, sent an enduring message about the Hawke Centre and its commitment to education, justice, responsible leadership and active citizenship locally and internationally.

The patronage also reflected his relationship with Bob Hawke. Mr Mandela recognised Bob Hawke’s actions against the apartheid regime as critical to his release from prison.

Nelson Mandela was awarded a University of South Australia doctorate by former Chancellor and Hawke Centre patron the late Dr Basil Hetzel AC in a ceremony at the University of Fort Hare, South Africa, 1998.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation based in South Africa embodies the spirit of reconciliation, Ubuntu, and social justice. Visit the Foundation website for more information about the Foundation's work and Nelson Mandela's life.

The images above have been reproduced with permission. Contact the Hawke Centre for further details.