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Aborigines Advancement League

Magazine - Aborigines Advancement League - Smoke Signals

Image: Magazine - Aborigines Advancement League - Smoke Signals

Source: Museum Victoria

The Aborigines Advancement League was formed in March 1957, with Gordon Bryant as president, Doris Blackburn as deputy president, Stan Davey as secretary and Pastor Doug Nicholls as field officer.

The five basic principles of the league were: equal citizenship rights with other Australians for Aboriginal people; all Aboriginal people to have a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, including food, clothing and medical care not less than for other Australians; all Aboriginal people to receive equal pay for equal work and the same industrial protection as other Australians; education for detribalised Aboriginal people to be free and compulsory; and the absolute retention of all remaining reserves, with native communal or individual ownership.

Early political activity included the drafting and circulating of a petition requesting a referendum to amend the Constitution so as to empower the federal parliament to legislate in Aboriginal affairs. A second early action was to establish a defence fund for Albert Namatjira who was appealing his conviction of supplying liquor to an Aboriginal ward of the state. In the late 1960s the organisation moved to full Aboriginal control. Still operating today, it is the oldest Indigenous organisation in Australia.

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