Birth of a federal movement
Jessie Street's judgement that the time was right for building a national movement for Aboriginal rights was heeded by Shirley Andrews, the Secretary of the Victorian Council for Aboriginal Rights, Dr Charles Duguid, the President of the South Australian Aborigines' Advancement League, and Stan Davey, Secretary of the Victorian Aborigines Advancement League. After Street's fact-finding tour of Australia and return to England in 1957, they began planning a national meeting to bring together representatives from like-minded bodies working to change discriminatory laws and attitudes concerning Aboriginal people.
In February 1958, at a meeting in Adelaide, activists from all mainland states formed a national pressure group: the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement (FCAA). Its goal was the achievement of 'equal citizens' rights' for Aboriginal Australians. The first two goals of this new body were:
1. Repeal of all legislation, federal and state, which discriminated against the Aborigines.
2. Amendment to the Commonwealth Constitution to give the Commonwealth government power to legislate for Aborigines as with all other citizens ...
Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement formed at Adelaide conference, February 1958
Source: Courtesy Len Fox
A new national movement was born. Over the next fifteen years it would campaign for constitutional change, equal wages, access to social service benefits, and rights to land. In 1964 it would recognise Torres Strait Islanders as a distinct people and become the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, or FCAATSI.