Official Opening Ceremony of The May O’Brien Building

Tuesday 3 May 2022

On Tuesday, 3 May 2022, we celebrated a trailblazing woman, May O’Brien, in officially naming the junior block, The May O’Brien Building.
May O’Brien was a pioneering educator and a proud aboriginal woman who taught at Mount Hawthorn Primary School for ten years. She inspired and touched the hearts of many as she modelled enormous determination, grit and kindness. As a trailblazing teacher, and a leader in the Department of Education, May assisted in creating systemic change towards reconciliation. May leaves a legacy which has impacted students, teachers and the state, and includes the motto, “Be Kind”.
This legacy is captured by artists Jade Dolman and Brendan Lewis in the mural which adorns The May O’Brien Building. The vibrant colours and symbols celebrate our shared cultural experiences and May’s portrait radiates her warmth and wisdom.

For more information about May’s story and the creation of the mural follow these links:



Recognition for May O’Brien’s Legacy, our cultural journey, and the students who hosted the ceremony

They tried to keep her out of teachers college…she beat them.

They tried to keep her teaching Aboriginal children only…she beat them.

A perfect afternoon to celebrate WA’s first qualified female Aboriginal teacher, Mrs (Aunty) May O’Brien.

Hon Sue Ellery – Minister for Education WA

May made significant contributions to the Mount Hawthorn community during her decade of teaching at the school, and will continue to do so as this mural and building carrying her name share her inspiring story with new generations.

I want to thank the Mt Hawthorn Primary School leadership, teachers, board and students for recognising this trailblazing leader.

Hon John Carey – MLA

I was honoured to celebrate May O’Brien’s contribution to education at the reopening of Mt Hawthorn Primary School’s ‘May O’Brien Building.’ Her outstanding life was celebrated in vivid colour with the unveiling of a mural by Jade D. Penangke and Hope Perth [Brendan Lewis].

Lisa Rodgers – Director General Department of Education WA

The Cultural Leaders and School Councillors represented Mount Hawthorn so ably at the May O’Brien Ceremony. They were ambassadors at a historic event in the presence of community leaders. Their professional delivery gave confidence to May’s family, and the important guests, that Mount Hawthorn Primary School is committed to progressing reconciliation, and doing its best to build upon May’s legacy. On behalf of the Schools Board, I thank the student leaders for capably representing MHPS.

Katharine Nash – Schools Board Chair

I am beyond proud @jdpenangke and @hope_perth’s breathtaking mural of Aunty May and what it represents for Mount Hawthorn Primary. A moorditj event where we renamed our building after a trailblazing woman, May O’Brien, and an event I’ll never forget. It will be etched in history and is another step towards becoming a more culturally responsive education system. May was a strong and determined woman who will never be forgotten.

In the words of May O’Brien: “Be Kind”.

Bree Rampal – RAP Project Leader