100 years of organised Aboriginal activism

  • Past Event
Indigenous Talks & Ideas
On Site

Centenary Forum for the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association 1924–2024. Hear about the origins of Aboriginal activism.

Event Information

12 April 2024, 10:00 am-2:30 pm
Past Event
General Admission:  
Library Auditorium, Lower Ground 1, Macquarie Street Building

1 Shakespeare Place
Sydney NSW 2000
+61 292731414

100 years banner image


To mark the centenary of the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association (AAPA), an incredible line-up of activists, historians and experts reflect on the legacy of the first politically organised and united all-Aboriginal activist group, which began in 1924 under the leadership of Frederick Maynard. Discussions will be followed by the official launch of the new edition of Fight for Liberty and Freedom, and a display of items connected to the history of the AAPA.

Fight for Liberty and Freedom by John Maynard is available for pre-order from The Library Shop here.

This event will take place in person at the State Library of NSW and will not be live-streamed. The content will be recorded and available for viewing shortly after the event. Please contact the Library’s bookings team via bookings@sl.nsw.gov.au to be notified when the recording is available.


Pauline Clague is Associate Professor, Manager of Cultural Resilience Hub, Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education & Research, at University of Technology Sydney and an adviser for the creative arts for Creative Plus Business. A Yaegl woman from North Coast NSW, she has worked as a storyteller and producer in film and TV for 25 years. She is founder and Artistic Director of Winda Film Festival in Sydney, a programmer for imagineNATIVE film + media festival in Toronto, Canada, and co-creator of NATIVE Slam, a 72-hour Indigenous film challenge held at Maoriland Film Festival in Otaki, New Zealand. Clague’s work in communities has centred around teaching Digital Storytelling as a platform for community to keep oral history active utilising new technologies. While working at NITV, she created the landmark series Our Stories, Our Way, Everyday, which in 3 years delivered approximately 380 short documentaries from around the country, winning her the Stanley Hawes Award in 2015 for her contribution to Australian documentaries. Known for her extensive work in championing and producing the works of Australia’s emerging and Indigenous filmmakers, Pauline has spent the last 20 years helping to develop and mentor other filmmakers and their voices.

Gary Edward Foley (appearing via Zoom) is an Aboriginal Australian activist of the Gumbaynggirr people, academic, writer and actor. He is best known for his role in establishing the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972 and for establishing an Aboriginal Legal Service in Redfern in the 1970s. In 1974 he was part of an Aboriginal delegation that toured China and in 1978 he took films on black Australia to the Cannes Film Festival. In 1994 Foley created the first Aboriginal owned and operated website when he created The Koori History Website, which remains one of the most comprehensive Aboriginal education resources available online today. Late in life Foley completed his BA and then gained first class honours in history in 2002. Between 2001 and 2005 he was also the Senior Curator for South-eastern Australia at Museums Victoria. Between 2005 and 2008 he was a lecturer and tutor in the Education Faculty of the University of Melbourne. In 2012 he completed at PhD in history at the University of Melbourne. He has worked at Victoria University since 2008.

Heather Goodall is a Sydney historian. Her early research with Indigenous people was on the centrality of land issues in Aboriginal politics, which was published as Invasion to Embassy (1996) and included an extended discussion of the role and importance of the AAPA. While living in Central Australia in 1984, Goodall worked for the Pitjantjatjara Council to research their case to the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia. She has since published on cultural and environmental relationships in rural and urban areas, including, in south-western Sydney, with Indigenous Australians, Arabic speakers, Vietnamese Australians and Anglo-Irish residents along the Georges River. She continues to work with First Nations people on life histories and with Tranby Aboriginal Cooperative on histories of land rights, community politics and activism.

Raymond Kelly is the Deputy Head of The Wollotuka Institute for Indigenous Engagement and Advancement at the University of Newcastle. As a Dhangatti and Gumbayngirr speaker, his research is centred on the recognition and revival of Indigenous languages. Through his collaborative language research with multiple Indigenous communities across Australia, he has been able to make vital connections between different Aboriginal languages as part of his revitalisation work. In 2020 he launched an innovative language program, ‘Muuya Banggi’, or ‘flying breath’, which brings together community language learners for shared language exploration, discussion and practice. Kelly has been integral in advising on language and his expertise is sought as a consultant for community and school language programs. He has been instrumental in helping build relationships between communities and government, and he has been called on to offer his advice on language policy and legislation. As a respected language researcher, speaker, performer and knowledge-holder, Kelly is known for centring an Indigenous strengths-based approach in his ongoing contribution to Indigenous language ecologies.

Born in Dubbo, Ganur Maynard is a descendant of the Kamilaroi people. He grew up in Newcastle and has ties with the local Worimi community through his membership of the Worimi Aboriginal Land Council. He graduated from the University of NSW with first class honours in law and arts, and the University Medal in History. After graduation, he was a Lisa Wright Scholarship intern at the Kimberley Land Council in Broome and the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University, focusing on the regulation of renewable energy projects on Indigenous land. Maynard commenced legal practice in commercial litigation and environment and planning at a top-tier international law firm in Sydney, before completing an associateship at the Federal Court of Australia. He now works as a solicitor in the civil section of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, where he concentrates on litigation regarding alleged abuses by police and prison officers. He is also a member of the Board of the Environmental Defenders Office.

John Maynard is a Worimi Aboriginal man from the Port Stephens region of NSW. He has held several major positions and served in numerous prominent organisations and committees, including Deputy Chairperson of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and the Executive Committee of the Australian Historical Association. He was the recipient of the Aboriginal History (Australian National University) Stanner Fellowship 1996, NSW Premier’s Indigenous History Fellowship 2003, Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship 2004, and the University of Newcastle Researcher of the Year 2008 and 2012. In 2014 he was elected a member of the prestigious Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and in 2020 he was made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He gained his PhD in 2003, examining the rise of early Aboriginal political activism. He has worked with and within many Aboriginal communities, urban, rural and remote. Professor Maynard’s publications have concentrated on the intersections of Aboriginal political and social history, and the history of Australian race relations. He is the author of 15 books, including Aboriginal Stars of the Turf, Fight for Liberty and Freedom, The Aboriginal Soccer Tribe, Aborigines and the Sport of Kings, True Light and Shade, Living with the Locals and Socceroos: A World Cup Odyssey, Vols 1 & 2.

Djon Mundine OAM, a Bundjalung man, is a curator, writer, artist and activist. Between 1979 and 1995 he was the art adviser at Milingimbi and Ramingining in the Northern Territory. Together with Ramingining artists he conceived the Aboriginal Memorial, which has been on almost continuous display at the National Gallery of Australia since 1988. Mundine has held curatorial positions in many national and international institutions, including the Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Queensland Art Gallery. From 2005 to 2006 he was research professor at the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) in Osaka, Japan. His major exhibitions include Tyerabowbarwarryaou – I Shall Never Become a Whiteman (with Fiona Foley, 1994) for the Havana Biennial and the Museum of Contemporary Art; The Native Born (1996) at the Museum of Contemporary Art; They are Meditating: Bark Paintings from the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Arnott’s Collection (2008); and the touring exhibition Bungaree: The First Australian (2015–16). Mundine won the Australia Council’s 2020 Red Ochre Award for Lifetime Achievement and is currently an independent curator of contemporary Indigenous art and a cultural mentor.

Gary Williams is a Gumbaynggirr/Bundjalung man who in February 1965, along with 29 students from the University of Sydney including Charles Perkins, Anne Curthoys and Jim Spigelman, set out in a bus to tour regional NSW to protest against racism towards Aboriginal people. The Freedom Ride bus was on the road for two weeks but generated comment and debate in the local and international press about the treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia. Williams took part in the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, established in 1972, and the 1981 South African Springbok Tour protest. He has worked on Gumbaynggirr language reclamation for over 25 years, and is the CEO of Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative. Williams managed Koori Broadcasters in Nambucca Heads and presented a ground-breaking language program on ABC Radio with Fiona Poole. His language and cultural knowledge and his deep understanding of linguistics underpins Muurrbay’s support of NSW coastal languages.


10.00am - Introductions


10.30am - 11.15am - The AAPA and its legacy

Emeritus Professor John Maynard

11.30 am - 1.15 pm - Panel discussion

John Maynard (host), Gary Foley, Heather Goodall, Gary Williams & Ray Kelly, Pauline Clague, Djon Mundine and Ganur Maynard.

1.15 pm - 1.30 pm - Book launch

Gary Foley officially launches the new edition of Fight for Liberty and Freedom by John Maynard.

1.30pm - 2.30pm - Book signing and collection item display