Australian Freedom Riders Essay

1312 words - 6 pages

In 1964 there was a protest outside the US consulate in Canberra that two thousand people had attended to protest about racial segregation and civil rights in the United States. Many people of the general public stated things such as if protesters are going to so much trouble why not protest about racial segregation within our own country. These comments had lead to the making of our own Australian Freedom Riders which were based on the American Freedom Riders who were making a difference with civil rights and discrimination in America. They travelled across America to raise awareness of the issues when it came to the African-American’s rights and they helped achieve equality. The Australian Freedom Riders helped in achieving freedom for the Indigenous Australians just like the Americans.
The Australian Freedom Riders consisted of thirty students that attended the University of Sydney. These students had heard about the American Freedom Riders and it sparked inspiration amongst them to make a difference within the Australian community. The whole idea of their trip was to help get rid of the socially discriminatory barriers which was standing up between indigenous and non-indigenous people, they had planned on bringing attention to the bad state of aboriginal heath, education and housing and finally they also wanted to encourage the aboriginals to stand up for themselves against discrimination. Charles Perkins a man born in Alice Springs and a third year arts student at the University of Sydney said ‘The whole freedom riders idea was not for white people on my mind, it’s for aboriginal people to realise second class isn't good enough, you don't always have to be first class but don't always be second class’ . The trip was planned in 1964 and the students had named themselves SAFA which stands for Student Action for Aboriginals. SAFA had made sure they would have media coverage whilst on their journey so Darce Cassidy became a part of the group which was a huge win for them; he was a journalist for the ABC and was able to record many tapes as they visited the towns which then helped the general public understand what exactly was happening. Later on in the planning Charles Perkins was elected the president of the SAFA group. On the 12th of February 1965 the Australian Freedom Riders set off on their journey that went until the 26th of February.
Whilst on this journey the Australian Freedom Riders had visited the towns in western New South Wales where racial segregation against aboriginals was still an issue. Walgett, Gulargambone, Kempsey, Bowraville and Moree are the towns that had visited whilst travelling. When the students saw the living conditions that the Aboriginals had to live in they were quite shocked and felt overwhelmed knowing that people had to actually live like this. In these towns the Aboriginals were evicted from their lands to be forced to live in reserves and missions and also small settlements which were located on the...

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