St David’s Hall


Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association emblem (courtesy John Maynard and State Records of NSW)

Location: 17 Arthur Street, Surry Hills

The Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association (AAPA) was an all-Aboriginal political organisation formed in Sydney in 1924 by Fred Maynard. He had been involved in the Coloured Progressive Association, a group active in Sydney between 1903 and 1908, and was profoundly influenced by Marcus Garvey and the African-American civil rights movement in the 1920s.

The first of four highly successful AAPA conferences organised by Maynard was held at St David’s Hall in Surry Hills in April 1925. The conference had an attendance of over 200 delegates from around the state, and was integral in the movement towards self-determination among Aboriginal people in NSW.

The conference at Surry Hills is considered to be the first civil rights convention of Aboriginal people in Australia. Maynard’s work with the AAPA in the 1920s paved the way for the Day of Mourning Conference in 1938.

Further reading: Zoe Pollock, ‘Australian Aborigines Progressive Association’, Dictionary of Sydney, 2008,, viewed 24 September 2013

John Maynard, Aboriginal politics to 1945, Dictionary of Sydney, 2008,, viewed 27 July 2015