Australian Aborigines' League

The Australian Aborigines' League was established in Melbourne, Australia, in 1934 by William Cooper and others, including Margaret Tucker, Eric Onus, Anna and Caleb Morgan, and Shadrach James.[1]

In a Letter to the Editor of the West Australian, the Hon. Secretary of the Australian Aborigines League, William Cooper wrote that, "The plea of our league is "a fair deal for the dark race."[2]

An early initiative by the League was to petition King George V for Indigenous Australians to be represented in the Australian Parliament, among other requests. 1,814 signatures were collected on the petition, although it was reported that William Cooper believed many Aboriginal people living on missions were too afraid to add their signature.[3]

In 1938 it joined the New South Wales based Aborigines Progressive Association in staging a Day of Mourning on Australia Day (26 January) in Sydney to draw attention to the treatment of Aborigines and to demand full citizenship and equal rights.[1] Mr. W. Ferguson, organising secretary of the Aborigines' Progressive Association of New South Wales, said of the planned national day of mourning: "The aborigines do not want protection... We have been protected for 150 years, and look what has become of us. Scientists have studied us and written books about us as though we were some strange curiosities, but they have not prevented us from contracting tuberculosis and other diseases, which have wiped us out in thousands."[4]

On 6 December 1938, following the Kristallnacht pogrom in Germany, a delegation of League members, led by Cooper, went to the German Consulate in Melbourne with a petition protesting against the “cruel persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazi government of Germany”.[5]

The League was less active after Cooper’s death in 1941 but was revived after the Second World War by Douglas Nicholls and by Eric and Bill Onus. In the 1960s it became the Victorian branch of the Aborigines Advancement League.[1]

William Cooper
William Cooper was a founder of the AAL


  1. ^ a b c "Australian Aborigines' League". Collaborating for Indigenous Rights. National Museum of Australia. Archived from the original on 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
  2. ^ "NATIVE REGULATIONS". The West Australian. Perth, WA: National Library of Australia. 22 November 1938. p. 9. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  3. ^ "ABORIGINES' LEAGUE". Townsville Daily Bulletin. Qld.: National Library of Australia. 27 October 1937. p. 8. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  4. ^ "BLACK MAN'S VIEWPOINT". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 13 November 1937. p. 15. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Aboriginal leader honored in Israel". News. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2012-05-01.
Aborigines Advancement League

The Aborigines Advancement League (also known as the Aboriginal Advancement League) is the oldest Aboriginal organisation in Australia. It is primarily concerned with Aboriginal welfare issues and the preservation of Aboriginal culture and heritage, and is based in Melbourne.

Australian Aboriginal kinship

Aboriginal Australian kinship are the systems of law governing social interaction, particularly marriage, in traditional Australian Aboriginal cultures. It is an integral part of the culture of every Aboriginal group across Australia.

Cummeragunja Reserve

Cummeragunja Reserve or Cummeragunja Station, alternatively spelt Coomeroogunja, Coomeragunja, Cumeroogunga and Cummerguja, was an Australian Aboriginal reserve established in 1881 on the New South Wales side of the Murray River, on the Victorian border near Barmah. The people were mostly Yorta Yorta.

David Unaipon

David Unaipon (born David Ngunaitponi) (28 September 1872 – 7 February 1967) was an Indigenous Australian of the Ngarrindjeri people, a preacher, inventor and author. Unaipon's contribution to Australian society helped to break many Indigenous Australian stereotypes, and he is featured on the Australian $50 note in commemoration of his work.

Day of Mourning (Australia)

The Day of Mourning was a protest held by Aboriginal Australians on 26 January 1938, the 150th anniversary of British colonisation of Australia. It was declared to be a protest of 150 years of callous treatment and the seizure of land, and purposefully coincided with the Australia Day celebrations held by the European population on the same day. The protest became a tradition, and annual Days of Mourning have been held to this day.

First Australians

First Australians is an Australian historical documentary series produced by Blackfella Films over the course of six years, and first aired in October 2008. The documentary is part of a greater project that further consists of a hard-cover book, a community outreach program and a substantial website featuring over 200 mini-documentaries.

The series chronicles the history of contemporary Australia, from the perspective of its first people, Aboriginal Australians. The series is essentially a synthesis of well documented historical information. It relies heavily on archival documents and interpretations from historians and members of both the Aboriginal and European community and leaders. The story begins in 1788 in Sydney, with the arrival of the First Fleet and ends in 1993 with Koiki Mabo's legal challenge to the foundation of Australia.

The series comprises seven episodes in which it explores what unfolded when the oldest living culture in the world was confronted by the British Empire. It explores the lives of particular individuals and uses their stories as a vehicle to explain the larger situations of the time. It explains violent aspects of European settlement of Australia, such as killings, battles, wars, as well as acts of friendship and decency between the early European settlers and Aboriginal Australians. Aboriginal Australian history has until recently been clouded by the "great Australian silence" where ignorance of the real history of Australia can be seen as a way for non-Aboriginal Australians to hide shame for their own history. In this respect it has been controversial in that many of these stories have not been portrayed on Australian television before and the Aboriginal Australian perspective of European settlement is confrontational for many.

Maori voting rights in Australia

Maori voting rights in Australia have an unusual history compared to voting rights for other non-white minorities. Māori were first given the vote through the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902, which specifically limited voting enrolment to persons of European descent, and "aboriginal native(s)" of New Zealand, in an effort to allay New Zealand's concerns about joining the Federation. During the parliamentary debates over the Act, leading Labor Party member King O'Malley supported the inclusion of Maori, and the exclusion of Australian Aboriginals, in the franchise, arguing that "An aboriginal is not as intelligent as a Maori."This anomalous condition remained in some jurisdictions (such as the Northern Territory) until 1962, when the Commonwealth Electoral Act superseded the earlier act.Prior to universal Australian Indigenous franchise, organisations such as the Australian Aborigines' League highlighted the inconsistencies in Australian law that allowed Maori voting rights (as well as old age and disability pensions, maternity bonuses and unemployment relief) but denied them to Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

Margaret Tucker

Margaret Lilardia Tucker MBE (18 March 1904 – 23 August 1996) was an Indigenous Australian activist and writer.

Mollie Dyer

Mollie Geraldine Dyer (1927–1998) was a Yorta Yorta woman who was an Aboriginal Child Welfare Worker and Aboriginal community worker, best known for co-founding the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency in 1977.Auntie Mollie, as she became known, was the daughter of Margaret Tucker, an Aboriginal activist involved in establishing Australian Aborigines League, and Philip Tucker, an Irish man. Dyer grew up in Hawthorn and Hastings. Dyer was educated at a convent school in Abbotsford where she was the only Aboriginal pupil. She would frequently travel to New South Wales to stay with her mother's family at Cummeragunja Mission.

When Dyer's father was serving overseas during World War II, Dyer, aged 15, left school to enter the workforce, where she experienced significant racism. Dyer's first marriage, to Alan Burns in 1947, produced six children all of whom were to become involved in Aboriginal community work and activism, and then married Charlie Dyer. In addition to her six biological children, Dyer would foster 19 children and provide short term accommodation for many more throughout her life.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Dyer worked with a group of fellow Aboriginal women to establish and deliver services to the Aboriginal community despite a lack of funding. In 1966, Dyer accepted a full-time position with the Aborigines Advancement League, continuing and formalising her welfare work.

When the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service was established in 1973, Dyer moved to a position there.

In 1976, Dyer delivered a speech at a national adoption conference and this instigated discussion of an Aboriginal-run agency to support Aboriginal children and families. The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency was established and Dyer served as Program Director, and soon similar organisations were established in other parts of Australia. Dyer worked to establish the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) in 1981.Dyer was part of the group that establish the Brambuk Living Cultural Centre in Halls Gap.

Dyer received the Member of the Order of Australia medal in 1979 in recognition of service to the Aboriginal community. She also received an International Year of the Child Award and an Advance Australia Medal. The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency headquarters was named in her honour. A street in the ACT suburb of Bonner is named after her.


NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week is an Australian observance lasting from the first Sunday in July until the following Sunday.

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The week is celebrated not just in the Indigenous communities but also in increasing numbers of government agencies, schools, local councils and workplaces.

National Indigenous Council

The National Indigenous Council (NIC) was an appointed advisory body to the Australian Government through the Minister's for Indigenous Affairs Taskforce on Indigenous Affairs (MTIA) established in November 2004 and chaired by Sue Gordon, a Western Australian magistrate. It first met in December 2004 and wound up in early 2008.

Terms of reference of the council were to provide expert advice to government on improving outcomes for indigenous Australians.

Pearl Gibbs

Pearl Gibbs (Gambanyi) (1901 – 28 April 1983) was an Indigenous Australian activist, and the most prominent female activist within the Aboriginal movement in the early 20th century. She was a member of the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA), and was involved with various protest events such as the 1938 Day of Mourning.

Thomas Paterson

Thomas Paterson (20 November 1882 – 24 January 1952) was an Australian farmer and politician.

Paterson was born in Aston, near Birmingham, England and educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham and Ayr Grammar School. He became a shoe salesman in 1897 and later a branch manager, but resigned in 1908 to study farming. In November 1908, he married Elsie Jane Tyrrell and next day set out to Australia with his wife, mother, brother and cousin, where he joined two other brothers on a dairy farm at Springfield, near Romsey, Victoria.

Voting rights of Indigenous Australians

The voting rights of Indigenous Australians became an issue from the mid-19th century, when responsible government was being granted to Britain's Australian colonies, and suffrage qualifications were being debated. The resolution of universal rights progressed into the mid-20th century.

Indigenous Australians began to acquire voting rights along with other adults living in the Australian colonies from the late-19th century. Other than in Queensland and Western Australia, Indigenous men acquired the vote alongside their non-Indigenous counterparts in the Australian colonies. In South Australia, Indigenous women also acquired the vote from 1895 onward.

Following Australian Federation in 1901, the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 restricted Aboriginal voting rights in federal elections. For a time Aboriginal people could vote in some states and not in others, though from 1949, Aboriginal people could vote if they were or had been servicemen. In 1962, the Menzies Government (1949–1966) amended the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to enable all Indigenous Australians to enrol to vote in Australian federal elections. In 1965, Queensland became the last state to remove restrictions on Indigenous voting in state elections, and as a consequence all Indigenous Australians in all states and territories had equal voting rights at all levels of government.

Many restrictions on voting rights only applied to some people that would, today, be considered Indigenous. Specifically, only people of full Indigenous ancestry or of mixed race "in whom the aboriginal blood preponderates" were limited through the Franchise Act. It did not apply to Indigenous people of mixed race that were, to use the language of the time, 'half-castes' or less. In practice, some local electoral officials may have denied enrolment to a broader range of Indigenous people than those formally excluded.

William Cooper (Aboriginal Australian)

William Cooper (18 December 1860 or 1861 – 29 March 1941) was an Australian Aboriginal political activist and community leader.

William Ferguson (Australian Aboriginal leader)

William Ferguson (24 July 1882 – 4 January 1950) was an Indigenous Australian leader.He was born at Darlington Point, Waddai, New South Wales, and worked as a shearer, labourer and mailman in the west of the State. His first political involvements were as an organiser of shearers for the Australian Workers' Union and then secretary of a local branch of the Australian Labor Party. From 1933 he lived at Dubbo with his wife and 12 children.

While he had lived outside of the system of "protection" of Aborigines, he was well aware of the conditions under which other Aboriginal people lived. From 1936, when parliament amended the Aborigines Protection Act (1909) to increase its powers to govern Aboriginal people's lives, he began speaking and lobbying for civil rights. He launched the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA) at Dubbo in 1937 and was a witness before the Legislative Assembly's select committee on the administration of the Aborigines Protection Act (which failed to initiate any reform). With William Cooper and John Patten, he organised a Day of Mourning for Aboriginals on Australia Day 1938. Aborigines Claim Citizen Rights! was the pamphlet that he wrote with Patten to promote their cause. He organised five APA conferences in country towns from 1938. He also was elected a member of the Aborigines Welfare Board, after the government responded to APA criticism by deciding to have two Aboriginal people on the board. While on the board he was shocked by the complaints received about conditions in Aboriginal reserves, and attempted to force some changes.

In 1949 he went to lobby the national Chifley Labor government in Canberra as a representative of the Australian Aborigines' League, asking for many administrative reforms, which he had drafted. The Minister for the interior, Herbert Johnson, was unresponsive. Ferguson was furious, resigned from the Labor party, and stood as an Independent candidate for Parliament in his electorate of Lawson, but drew only a small number of votes. He collapsed after a final speech, and died of hypertensive heart failure on 4 January 1950 in Dubbo Base Hospital.


The Wiradjuri people (Wiradjuri northern dialect pronunciation [wiraːjd̪uːraj]; Wiradjuri southern dialect pronunciation [wiraːjɟuːraj]) are a group of Indigenous Australian Aboriginal people that were united by a common language, strong ties of kinship and survived as skilled hunter–fisher–gatherers in family groups or clans scattered throughout central New South Wales.

In the 21st century, major Wiradjuri groups live in Condobolin, Peak Hill, Narrandera and Griffith. There are significant populations at Wagga Wagga and Leeton and smaller groups at West Wyalong, Parkes, Dubbo, Forbes, Cootamundra, Cowra and Young.

Yininmadyemi - Thou didst let fall

Yininmadyemi - Thou didst let fall is a sculptural artwork by Indigenous Australian artist Tony Albert located in Hyde Park, Sydney. Unveiled on 31 March 2015, the artwork acknowledges the service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women in the Australian Defence Force.


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