May Day procession

May Day procession in Sydney in the 1950s (photograph courtesy Noel Butlin Collection, Australian National University – hdl:1885/48117)

Magari            to fish
binnie bow        I will make
wulunadarang        hunt
yarrabuni         mind your work!
banga or bangawarra     make or do

Sydney’s inner suburbs have long been a magnet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking work opportunities, shelter and connections with community and family. Many worked in private industry in Sydney’s southern suburbs but the biggest employer of Aboriginal people in the city was the Eveleigh Railway Yards. Aboriginal people were also involved in the trade union movement, seeking better pay and conditions for working people.

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Title_Working Life

Aboriginal labour in Sydney

Author: Anita Heiss Because mainstream histories of Australia often render Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as invisible or describe them in negative terms, these histories often fail to recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been involved … Continued

Federal Match Factory

Federal Match Factory

Sydney has long been a magnet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking work opportunities, shelter and connections with community and family. Many worked in private industry in Sydney’s southern suburbs. Local industries where Aboriginal people worked were the … Continued

Australian Glass Manufacturers

Australian Glass Manufacturers

Sydney has long been a magnet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking work opportunities, shelter and connections with community and family. Many worked in private industry in Sydney’s southern suburbs. Local industries where Aboriginal people worked were the … Continued

Francis chocolate factory

Francis Chocolates

Sydney has long been a magnet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking work opportunities, shelter and connections with community and family. Many worked in private industry in Sydney’s southern suburbs. Local industries where Aboriginal people worked were the … Continued

Workers at the unveiling of an honour board at the Eveleigh Railway Yards in Redfern (photograph courtesy Noel Butlin Collection, Australian National University – hdl:1885/203)

Eveleigh Railway Yards

Eveleigh Railway Yards was Sydney’s largest employer from the time it opened in 1886. It was also one of the biggest employers of Aboriginal people living in Sydney. Many Aboriginal men also worked in the Alexandria goods yard loading trains … Continued

May Day procession

Trades Hall

When Aboriginal people began to organise politically, there were often sympathetic non-Aboriginal people to help in the struggle, some of them unionists. From the 1950s, unions and Aboriginal organisations worked closely to build momentum towards the 1967 Referendum on Citizenship … Continued