I enjoy researching pioneering women, those who subverted patriarchal society to defend their beliefs, and one such woman was Indigenous activist Faith Bandler (1918-2015). Bandler was one of the most prominent activists of the 1950s, and along with Pearl Gibbs, they co-founded the Australian-Aboriginal Fellowship (AAF). The main objective of this organisation was to generate an amicable relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in New South Wales. One of the most successful petitions devised by the AAF was to change the Constitution in regards to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. This petition, established by Jessie Street, a white feminist activist, along with Bandler and Gibbs, effectively enabled the success of the 1967 Referendum.
Bandler's activism and resistance saw her under surveillance from the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) for decades. Volume One of her file (1950-1962) is a well-documented collection of newspaper cuttings, minutes from protest meetings, surveillance notes and correspondence in relation to her Indigenous identity. The detail contained in this file provides insight into the agency Faith Bandler had, and the way she confronted issues of repression and brought those issues into public consciousness. Particularly in an era where being Black and a woman, was subject to public scrutiny and was perceived as a detriment.
Bandler's ASIO file is available at The National Archives of Australia.