Warning: Indigenous Australians are advised that this website includes images or names of people now deceased.

Communist Party of Australia

From the 1920s, the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) was influenced by the Comintern's (Third Communist International) view of racial minorities and what their attitude to such people should be.

Tom Wright's New Deal for Aborigines, published in 1939, argued that the labour movement needed to recognise and address the neglect of Aboriginal Australians by governments. The Party provided vital support for the 1946 Pilbara strike. Key contributions in the struggle for Aboriginal rights were made by Shirley Andrews, Barry Christophers, Len Fox, Pauline Pickford, Gladys O'Shane, Kath Walker, Faith Bandler and others who were, or had been, members of the Communist Party of Australia. It is a mistake, however, to think that these activists followed a particular party line. There is plenty of evidence to show that those CPA members who were deeply involved in assisting Aboriginal people in their campaigns for justice were driven less by ideology than by a strong sense of moral responsibility to a dispossessed people. Nevertheless, the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders was, through much of the 1960s, a site of Cold War tensions between the Left on the one hand, and political conservatives who believed that Communists were dishonourable in intent.

< Previous Next >