Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs

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Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs

[media]Founded in 1964, the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs sought to assist Aboriginal people migrating to Sydney to find jobs and housing. Formed in association with Charles Perkins, Ken Brindle, Ted Noffs and Bill Geddes, [1] the foundation raised funds through donations garnered by speaking at functions and door knocking. [2] Much of its activity centred on organising socials, in particular dances at the Redfern Town Hall.

The foundation established a cultural centre in George Street, which sold Aboriginal artefacts and art from the Northern Territory and regional communities. [3] It also supported Aboriginal artists based in Sydney, such as The Silver Lining, Black Lace, Jimmy Little, Col Hardy, Candy Williams and Max Silva. [4]

The focus of the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs was on achieving equality for Aboriginal people, and the participation of Aboriginal people in social activities was considered a means to achieve social inclusion and acceptance.

While the organisation appeared to be non-political in its objectives, it fostered a generation of prominent activists including Charles Perkins, Gary Foley, Chicka Dixon and Joyce Clague. The strength of the foundation lay in its ability to generate pride among Aboriginal people. Chicka Dixon reflected 'It taught people to stand up and be counted … to be proud to be Aboriginal.' [5] This was in direct opposition to the assimilation policy, which sidelined Aboriginal culture and attempted to stamp it out.

The Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs was also deeply involved in the campaign for the 1967 referendum to give the federal government power to make laws relating to Indigenous affairs, working closely with the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship. [6]

The foundation folded in 1977 due to a lack of funding and a general shift to Aboriginal-run and administered organisations.


[1] National Museum of Australia Canberra, 'Collaborating for Indigenous Rights: Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs', http://www.indigenousrights.net.au/organisation.asp?oID=35, viewed 13 June 2008

[2] Chili Films, The Foundation 1963–1977, video recording, 2002

[3] 'High Hopes Realized – Success of Centre Now Seems Assured', Dawn, April 1967 p 7

[4] City of Sydney, 'Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City', http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani/themes/theme5.htm, viewed 13 June 2008

[5] Chicka Dixon quoted in Chili Films, The Foundation 1963–1977, video recording, 2002

[6] Chili Films, The Foundation 1963–1977, video recording, 2002