The 1967 referendum: ‘Give Aboriginals Citizenship Rights!’

The Aboriginal community and all supporters of justice are invited to….

Dawn Service

When: Sat May 26, 6:45am

Where: Sorry Park, Cnr Hill End Tce & Forbes St, West End

Marking the 40th anniversary of the victory of the 1967 referendum


Photo from the 1966 May Day march in Queen Street Brisbane

The referendum came about as a result of many years of organising by the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, which was formed on the 13 February 1958 in Adelaide. At the time it was simply called the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement (FCAA).


Alick Jackomos had been involved with what he called ‘the Aboriginal movement’ since the 1930s. Here’s part of a recording of his testimony regarding the collecting of signatures in 1962 in Collingwood used to pressure the government to call the referendum.

And, Doug [Nicholls] and I – I was employed by the Advancement League then as a field officer. And we used to go up to Smith Street, Collingwood with a little card table outside of old Foy & Gibson’s. It’s not there anymore. And Doug’d be yelling out, ‘give Aboriginals citizenship rights!’ And he’d be dragging people. And Doug was like chewing gum to anyone because if he put his hand on them they’d come right to the table – you know. He could mesmerise them, Doug and get them there. And it was Doug’s job to lead ‘em to the table, and there’s me sitting at the table getting people to sign. But we signed those petitions there but we also had a good spot outside the Collingwood football ground on home matches – outside the Collingwood members’ stand.

Now Collingwood footballers are black and white one-eyed. Normally they’d just rush into the grandstand to get their seat. But this particular day Doug Nicholls, again as they were walkin’ in – and everybody knew Doug. I mean Doug was a household name. He was better known than Henry Bolte who was the premier at the time. Soon as they see Doug, they couldn’t resist Doug. So he leads ‘em to the table and we’d get these petitions. And we got a lot of petitions signed. And so did all the other workers in Victoria.

From the recollections of Alick Jackomos, who had been involved with what he calls ‘the Aboriginal movement’ since the 1930s

See excellent roundup of the story of the 1967 Referendum on the Fryer Library Website at

Bring a plate of food and a chair.

Organised by Sam Watson 0401 227 443

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