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Aboriginal Progress Association

The Aboriginal Progress Association was formed in August 1964 to promote Aboriginal progress and welfare. One of its foundation members, Laurie Bryan, felt that the South Australian Aborigines' Advancement League was dominated by non-Aboriginal members and that a new body was needed to give developing Aboriginal political activists a voice.

He resigned from the League and gathered together a number of well-educated Aboriginal activists such as John Moriarty, Winnie Branson, Vince Copley and Malcolm Cooper to form the Progress Association. It was proposed that only people of Aboriginal descent would have full voting rights and Malcolm Cooper became the first president.

One of the achievements of this organisation was its work in Aboriginal education. An Aboriginal Education Foundation was formed which helped Aboriginal secondary and tertiary students.

Gladys Elphick, a respected elder stateswoman, was unhappy with the fact that the Progress Association was dominated by men and that the two non-Aboriginal members, Laurie Bryan and Eugene Lumbers, were particularly dominant. She believed that Aboriginal women would have more success at reaching the desperately poor Aboriginal people in Adelaide. Gladys did, however, recognise the achievement of the Aboriginal Education Foundation and its value in bringing together women such as Lois O'Donoghue, Margaret Lawrie and Maude Tongerie who were becoming politically active.

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