Pattie Lees was born in Cairns, North Queensland, and was removed from her family at an early age and sent to Palm Island as a Ward of the State. At the age of nineteen she joined the Women's Royal Australian Navy. She represented Australia as a delegate at several United Nations development forums. She is currently CEO of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Children and Youth Services. Married to husband Terry for 51 years, Pattie is the mother of four children, grandmother to twelve and a great-grandmother.