Artefacts about 1940s
Aboriginal activist and leader, Pearl Gibbs, fought for fair access to pensions and income support payments. She questioned proposed changes to social services legislation.
Aboriginal activist Shadrach Livingstone James petitioned the prime minister for federal citizenship rights for Aboriginal people. This included access to social security benefits and services.
A new Act brought a range of social services together under federal government responsibility. It excluded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from payments unless they had an exemption.
Community leaders from South Australian missions questioned legislation that said they had to move away from missions to get government payments.
In 1949, Aboriginal railway labourers who had been denied Unemployment Benefit successfully lobbied the government for financial support.
In 1949, the government rejected requests by 6 Torres Strait Islander cane cutters for Unemployment Benefit. The Queensland Premier asked the prime minister to review the decision.
Even when government help was available, it was often not enough to help disadvantaged Aboriginal families out of poverty. One man’s oral history shows years of upheaval trying to find security for his family.