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An alternative view of reserves: the conference of Aboriginal organisations
Paul Hasluck had his critics. Most of them endorsed the policy of 'assimilation' but saw its implications for government practice differently. In 1958, a gathering of such people and organisations in Adelaide resulted in the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement (FCAA - later renamed FCAATSI to acknowledge the distinct identity of the people of the Torres Strait). Both whites and blacks were involved in FCAATSI, but until 1970, whites tended to hold the leading positions. The activists of FCAATSI conceded that it was necessary to make it easier for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to join in 'the Australian way of life'. However, they insisted that this aspiration did not warrant governments depriving Indigenous Australians of the little land they had left. At the FCAA's first conference, in Adelaide February 14-16 1958, the following General Principles were adopted:
1. Repeal of all legislation, Federal and State, which discriminates against the Aborigines.
2. Amendment to the Commonwealth Constitution to give the Commonwealth power to legislate for Aborigines as with all other citizens, and because of their special disabilities, legislation on the lines of rehabilitation schemes to be enacted to assist the integration of the Aboriginal people; in the interim special disabilities grants to States for federal welfare.
3. Immediate plans for improved housing for all detribalised Aborigines throughout Australia.
4. All Aborigines to receive equal pay for equal work and the same industrial protection as other Australians.
5. (a) Where Aboriginal children are unable to attend schools through distance and economic backwardness, special facilities for education and training to be provided.(b) Facilities to be provided for education, vocational training to allow Aboriginal youths and adults to attain an equal standard of living.
6. Absolute retention of all remaining native reserves, with native communal or individual ownership.
7. Feeding of Aborigines throughout Australia on Government stations, missions, sheep and cattle stations, to be not less than the new ration scale recommended by the Federal Department of Health, June 1957.

In the sixth point, the FCAA was faithful to an international convention which the Australian government then refused to ratify: the International Labor Office's Convention 107 of 1957 'Indigenous and Tribal Populations', whose Article 11 affirmed that 'The rights of ownership, collective or individual, of the members of the populations concerned over the lands which these populations traditionally occupy shall be recognised.'
Keywords: activism, assimilation, FCAATSI Federal Council For Aboriginal Advancement , Hasluck, Paul, land rights, racism, reconciliation, reserves, Torres Strait Islanders, 1958

Fox, Len and Bandler, Faith 1983, 'The time was ripe: the story of the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship 1956-69 ', Alternative Publishing Co-operative, pp 97-8.
Author: Rowse, Tim and Graham, Trevor