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Faith Bandler AC

In 1974, Faith Bandler was co-founder of the Australian South Sea Islanders United Council.

Honour Roll

Faith Bandler was born in Tumbulgum, New South Wales, on 27 September, 1920. Her father was from Vanuatu and had been blackbirded to work on the Queensland canefields. Faith later retold her father's story in the award winning novel Wacvie (1977) and Marani in Australia (1980, with Len Fox).

Faith grew up in Murwillumbah on the New South Wales north coast and experienced prejudice but also had white friends. Faith came to prominence when in 1956 she and Pearl Gibbs founded the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship, a political body whose campaign for citizenship rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people achieved success at the 1967 Federal referendum. In 1957, they launched a petition and began a ten-year campaign for a referendum to delete the 'discriminatory clauses' from the Australian Constitution. They were successful.

Faith remained active in the Aboriginal rights campaign as a member of the executive of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. She wrote Turning the Tide: A personal history (1989) about that period and also penned The Time Was Ripe (1983, with Fox) about her time in the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship.

Faith refused the MBE that was offered her in 1976, but accepted an OAM in 1984. With her gentle manner, incisive intellect and unswerving commitment to Indigenous rights and equity, Faith is an inspiration to our nation.