The late Dawn O’Donnell was an important figure in Sydney’s LGBTIQ history. She is often credited as a driving force in the creation of our gay mile – Oxford Street – and for helping to make Sydney one of the gay capitals of the world.
Iconic venues, long gone but fundamental to our heritage such as Capriccio’s, Patchs, The Exchange, Newtown and Imperial Hotels, were all created by Dawn. She is remembered for being a tough businesswoman but also someone who was often quietly guiding and assisting those she knew were working for our greater good.
Long-time friend Bruce Pollack said Dawn was as much noted for her quiet philanthropy as her commercial success.
“She was a tireless supporter of charities, both lesbian and gay and mainstream,” he said.
It was from this respect and gratitude that a group of our community movers and shakers arranged a huge community event to celebrate Dawn’s 70th birthday. A sold-out fundraising dinner took place in the late summer of 1998 at the Paddington Town Hall with the proceeds benefiting the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation.
It was such a massive success that some of those organisers, led by Bruce Pollack and encouraged by Dawn, began to think that this could be an annual event. It was workshopped and developed – and the next year, we all attended the first Aurora Dinner.
Bruce said he has always considered Aurora his baby and from the beginning wanted to raise monies to disburse to gay and lesbian community organisations in need of support. Thus the organisation’s many events, including the annual dinner, The Aurora Ball, have become important charity fundraisers that also bring fun, glamour and joy to our community.
|The Aurora Board of Directors and Trustees|