Faith Bandler, one of the nation’s greatest advocates for indigenous Australians during the 20th century struggle for Aboriginal rights, has died.
She was 96.
Bandler was a leader in the 1960s campaign to grant Indigenous people the right to citizenship, which eventually say the largest Yes vote in any referendum in Australian history in 1967.
During her talks she would often tell stories of her father’s harsh experience as a slave on a sugar cane plantation in Mackay as a strong motivation for her activism.
Prime minister Tony Abbott paid his respects to Bandler and her work for the Aboriginal people.
Our country has lost a champion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, Faith Bandler AC.
Ms Bandler was a tireless social activist, best known for leading the political campaign which resulted in the landmark 1967 referendum that ensured Indigenous Australians were counted as full citizens and gave the Federal Government responsibility for Indigenous Affairs.
Ms Bandler served in the Australian Women’s Land Army in World War II, despite receiving less pay than her non Indigenous colleagues.
She helped form the Aboriginal Australian Fellowship and served as General-Secretary of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
In 2009, Ms Bandler was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for her service to Aboriginal welfare and is a recipient of the Human Rights Medal.
Bandler is survived by her daughter, Lilon Gretl.
The NSW government has offered her family a state funeral in recognition of her service to the nation.
Here’s a video of Bandler speaking on the Referendum.