People Power: Focus Question 1: How Did the Freedom Riders Confront Injustice Toward Aboriginal People in the 1960s?
In 1965, a group of 30 Sydney University students toured a number of country towns in northern New South Wales in a bus. Their intention was to survey the living conditions of Aboriginal people and draw attention to the racial discrimination that existed in rural NSW. The campaign, led by university student, Charles Perkins was inspired by the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.
The Freedom Riders highlighted episodes in these towns where Aboriginal people were kept out of recreational facilities such as swimming pools and RSL clubs, and were excluded from shopping centres. This campaign attracted wide media attention across Australia, contributing significantly to increased public awareness about the Aboriginal fight for justice and equality.