Trades Hall

May Day procession

May Day procession in Sydney in c1965. From left to right (holding the banner) are Charles 'Chicka' Dixon, Gilbert Jackson and Roy Carroll; the smiling man at left holding the 'Aborigines Full Rights' sign may be Ray Walker (photograph courtesy Noel Butlin Collection, Australian National University – hdl:1885/8925)

Location: 4-10 Goulburn Street, Sydney

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 Rights and Commonwealth control of Aboriginal affairs.

Unions helped Aboriginal people from regional areas to get jobs in Sydney, and offered support in the education sector by financing scholarships at Tranby College. The Builders Labourers Federation was a sponsor of the Redfern All Blacks football team, and later placed a Green Ban on the development of The Block in the early 1970s.

In 1963, two Aboriginal unionists, Ray Peckham and Valentine ‘Monty’ Maloney, launched The Aboriginal Worker newspaper, which urged Aboriginal people to ‘play an active part in their union’.

Further reading

Ray Peckham interviewed by Rob Willis in the Activists for Indigenous rights in the mid 20th century oral history project, 2012, National Library of Australia, ORAL TRC 6430,