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Northern Territory Council for Aboriginal Rights

Unlike similar bodies, the Northern Territory Council for Aboriginal Rights (NTCAR) was an Aboriginal organisation. Following a meeting with Dr Barry Christophers and armed with a copy of the Victorian Council for Aboriginal Rights constitution Brian Manning and fellow member of the Communist Party of Australia, Terry Robinson, met with interested Aboriginal people. Late in 1961 the organisation was formed with a constitution based on their sister organisation in Melbourne but with an added clause requiring that 75 per cent of executive members be of Aboriginal descent. This was unusual for such organisations at this time. Jacob Roberts was the first president with Phillip Roberts taking over in 1962. It affiliated with the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement in 1962, thus giving a voting majority power within the Federal Council to the left-wing Aboriginal affiliates: the Victorian Council for the Aboriginal Rights, the New South Wales Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship and the Queensland Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

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Program for Improved Living Standards for Northern Territory Aborigines
Program for Improved Living Standards for Northern Territory Aborigines
Source: Council for Aboriginal Rights (Victoria), MS13913, State Library of Victoria
The Council confronted discrimination wherever it emerged, whether it be the right to be served in a hotel or the right to sit anywhere in a picture theatre. NTCAR demonstrated against the mandatory jailing of Aboriginal citizens for sharing alcohol with relatives who were wards of the state. It assisted Aboriginal employees to obtain award wages in the railways and on the wharf.

From 1966 the Gurindji walk-off became the focus of activity with the NTCAR providing support for striking workers and publicity about the issue. Following the untimely death of George Gibbs in 1976 the Council was wound up by Moira Gibbs. By this time, as a result of Whitlam government initiatives, consultative bodies had been set up in the Northern Territory and elsewhere.

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