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Faith Bandler
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Advocate
    (September 23, 1918-February 13, 2015)
    Born in Tumbulgum, New South Wales, Australia
    Birth name was Ida Lessing Faith Mussing
    Father was a South Seas Islander (Vanuatu), mother was of Scottish and Indian heritage
    Founding member of the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship (1956)
    General Secretary of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (1957-73)
    Leading figure in the campaign for a referendum to amend the Australian constitution to grant citizenship to Indigenous Australians (1967)
    Wrote the novels 'Wacvie' (1977) and 'Welou, My Brother' (1984)
    Named to the Order of Australia (1984)
    Ironically, when she was growing up, her mother forbade her from playing with Aborigine children, saying they were 'no good' because of their reliance on government support.
    She dropped out of school to become a dressmaker's apprentice.
    Her campaign for civil rights for Australians of South Seas Island descent was much less successful than her campaign on behalf of Aborigines.
    She complained that her political activities kept her from pursuing her dream of being a writer until her 60s.
    Her father was kidnapped from Vanuatu at age 13 and was effectively enslaved on a sugar cane plantation until he escaped.
    She said, 'Many of the things that are said about the Aborigines were said about my father, and to my way of thinking, it's a lot of nonsense.'
    During World War II, she joined the Australian Women's Land Army, and had her interest in civil rights triggered by the discovery that she was paid less than white women for the same work.
    She was married to Hans Bandler, a concentration camp survivor from Austria, for 57 years until his death.
    'The Australian' said of her campaigning, 'Poise and eloquence are two of Mrs. Bandler's most notable assets.'
    The National Trust of Australia named her one of the inaugural Australian Living Treasures (1997).

Credit: C. Fishel


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