Wollongong Heritage and Stories

Category tag: aboriginal

south coast aboriginal advancement league

The South Coast Aboriginal Advancement League was formed in late 1961 to address the inadequate living conditions, discrimination and lack of opportunities being offered to Aboriginal people on the south coast of NSW.

A small delegation under the Trades and Labour Council of the Wollongong region visited towns to the south of Wollongong, to inspect the living conditions of Aboriginal people.

Issues such as poor provision of housing, lack of permanent employment and inadequate pay along with discrimination in the form of segregation and refusal of service were detailed in a report produced after the visit. Just one example of the segregation of Aboriginal people was found in cinemas on the south coast, where Aboriginal people were indignantly forced to sit in a roped off section of the cinema and refused service at the snack bar.

To address these issues, the Trades and Labour Council would target discriminatory activities region by region, and take action such as restricting the supply of food to cinema snack bars, unless they served Aboriginal people equally.

Original member Fred Moore, identifies the original group of the League as being five local Aboriginal women – Olga Booth, Linda Cruse, Gladys Douglas, Elizabeth ‘Dolly’ Henry and Mary Davis. Other founding members were Aboriginal man Bobby Davis, along with unionists Fred Moore and Joe Howe.

The courage of this group of activists and the support they received from the Trades and Labour Council and unions in the region, earned the Wollongong area the nick name ‘The Strong South’ where people supported each other in fighting inequality.

This unified group of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, worked together for many years on the south coast, to address inequality and racism and inspired many others to carry on their work.

To hear an interview with Uncle Fred Moore go to:

The story of the South Coast Aboriginal Advancement League is not currently on display.  If you would like to discover more about vibrant Aboriginal culture, please visit the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation Cultural Centre and Keeping Place.