1967 Referendum Case Study

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The 1967 Referendum marked a momentous victory for the indigenous people of Australia and their bid for civil rights. This digital exhibition explores the causes and effects of the referendum. Images and documents in the causes gallery focus on the factors that led to the referendum whilst the effects gallery centres on its consequences. Causes The sources exhibited in the Causes gallery range from strategies, to key figures to provide a detailed picture of the factors that led to the 1967 Referendum. It was essential that Australians’ progressed in their perception of and attitudes towards Aboriginal Australians if the 1967 Referendum was going to receive the support it needed from the Australian Public. This attitude adjustment was evident…show more content…
Formed in 1957, the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders commenced their campaign with a series of petitions displayed in Source 4 that called for a referendum. This had the effect of not only mobilising support for a change to the constitution but also of informing the public of the issues facing Aborigines. Over the course of the campaign, more than 100,000 signatures were collected and presented to the Parliament in 94 separate petitions (NMA, n.d.). This was a key factor in changing politicians’ minds and the government’s stance (Koori Mail, 2007). A key factor of the support of the referendum by non-indigenous Australians was the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders ‘Yes’ campaign. After the Holt government announced on February 23 1967, a referendum to amend sections 51 and 127 of the constitution, the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders used pamphlets and posters to campaign for a Yes vote. The ‘Right Wrongs, Write Yes’ poster in particular was a key factor in its appeal to a sense of justice in white Australians to vote yes, specifically in its use of appealing indigenous children (NMA,…show more content…
An important example of this was Faith Bandler, a South Sea Islander who was the general secretary of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders and a prominent campaigner for the rights of Aboriginal Australians. This is evident in a newspaper article from The Sun which details Faith Bandler, a South Sea Islander, as a key orchestrator of the FCAA campaign for the 1967 Referendum (The Sun, 1967). One of Bandler’s many important contributions was her assistance in publicising the YES case for the 1967 referendum as her public exposure as an articulate and respectable spokesperson was very effective in providing a personable image which represented a positive face for the campaign, in contrast to previous racial stereotypes that imagined Aborigines as savage and uncivilized (Bandler, 1989). The support of the clergy was a notable contribution to the cause of the referendum to amend the constitution’s widespread support (Sydney Morning Herald, 1967). Gaining the public support of the churches was crucial during an era when many Australians were influenced by the views of the
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