• Entry type: Organisation
  • Entry ID: IMP0086

Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders

(From 1958 – 1978)


The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders developed out of a conference of interested groups who met in Adelaide in 1958. The meeting resulted in in the formation of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement and the election of the executive. Membership was opened to Aboriginal advancement organisations and to other organisations which supported the Council’s platform to repeal discriminatory legislation at state and federal levels; amend the federal constitution to enable the Commonwealth Government to legislate for Aborigines; improve the lives of Aboriginal people through housing, equal pay, education and adequate rations in remote areas; and advocate land rights. In 1964, the organisation was renamed to include Torres Strait Islanders in the title, becoming the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

One of FCAATSI’s major campaigns was for constitutional change, which was instrumental in establishing the 1967 Referendum. FCAATSI membership was divided in 1970, after motions were put to reserve membership of the executive and voting rights at general meetings to people of Aboriginal or Islander descent. The National Tribal Council, run by and for Indigenous Australians, was subsequently formed as a separate organisation. In March 1978 FCAATSI changed its name to the National Aboriginal and Islander Liberation Movement, but this organisation never met. The same year, the federal government cut funding to the organisation, and it was disbanded.

Published resources

  • Book
    • Turning the tide : a personal history of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, Bandler, Faith, 1989
  • Journal Article
    • They spoke out pretty good: the leadership of women in the Brisbane Aboriginal rights movement, 1958/ 1962, Darling, Elaine, 1996
    • Witnesses from the conference floor : oral history and the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders [Paper in: Fresh Cuts: New Talents 2001, Ruinard, Elizabeth and Tilley, Elspeth (eds.).], Taffe, Susan, 2001
    • (The) 1967 (Referendum) and all that : narrative and myth, Aborigines and Australia., Attwood, Bain; Markus, Andrew, 1998
    • Cheeky, insolent and anti white: the split in the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders: Easter 1970, Read, Peter, 1990
    • From Sydney to Tingha: early days in the Aboriginal/ Australian Fellowship, Horner, Jack, 1987
    • Aboriginal health: some of the political issues involved, Briscoe, Gordon, 1981
    • The Commonwealth Referendum of 1967 and Australian Indigenous citizenship : an interpretation of historical events, Tripcony, Penny, 2001
  • Edited Book
    • The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia : Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, society and culture, Horton, David, 1994
    • Australian Feminism: A Companion, Caine, Barbara, Gatens, Moira et al., 1998
  • Book Section
    • What FCAATSI fought for, Joe McGinness, 1991
    • Aboriginal women and economic ingenuity [Changing white perceptions of Aboriginal culture and the role of women in that culture], Langton, Marcia; Barry, Kristen, 1998
    • Representation matters : the 1967 referendum and citizenship, Attwood, Bain; Markus, Andrew, 1998
  • Newspaper Article
    • An Aboriginal activist talks about her life, Boyle, Helen, 1982
    • F.C.A.A.T.S.I. Conference / "Aborigines in Politics", 1974
  • Resource Section
  • Conference Proceedings
    • Reports and resolutions, Conference on Aboriginal Affairs (8th : 1965 : Canberra, A.C.T.), 1965
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Oral History and Folklore Collection
    • Shirley Andrews interviewed by Peter Read in the Peter Read collection of interviews conducted for his book entitled, Charles Perkins : a biography [sound recording]
  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Papers of Jack and Jean Horner, 1956-2003 [manuscript]
    • Papers of Charles Perkins, 1956-1993 [manuscript]
  • AIATSIS Manuscript and Rare Books Collection
    • Annual report by N.S.W. State Secretary
  • Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection
    • Collection 01: Faith Bandler papers, 1968-1992
    • Collection 02: Faith Bandler further papers, 1875, 1945-1997
  • Fryer Library and Department of Special Collections
    • Daisy Marchisotti Papers

Related entries

  • Related Women
    • Turner, Patricia Ann (1952 - )
    • Langton, Marcia Lynne (1951 - )
  • Membership
    • Marchisotti, Daisy Elizabeth (1904 - 1987)
  • Member
    • Andrews, Shirley Aldythea Marshall Seymour (1915 - 2001)
  • Vice President
    • Scott, Evelyn Ruth (1935 - 2017)
  • Founder
    • Bandler, Faith Ida Lessing (1920 - 2015)
  • Secretary
    • Bandler, Faith Ida Lessing (1920 - 2015)
    • Oodgeroo Noonuccal (1920 - 1993)
  • Related Events
    • Referendum 1967 (1967 - )