Aborigines Progressive Association

Proclamation of the Day of Mourning.

The Aborigines Progressive Association (APA[1]) was established in 1937 by William Ferguson and Jack Patten in Dubbo, New South Wales.[2][3] Ferguson led a group in the western part of the state, while Patten assembled an alliance of activists in the north-east. Both wings of the APA were involved in political organisation, rallies, and protests in both Aboriginal communities and reserves and major NSW centres such as Sydney.[4]

In 1938 the APA organised the Day of Mourning on Australia Day (26 January) of that year to protest the lack of basic human rights available to Aborigines.[1] It was held at the Australian Hall, Sydney.[4] The APA was joined by the Melbourne-based Australian Aborigines' League in staging the Day of Mourning to draw attention to the treatment of Aborigines and to demand full citizenship and equal rights.[5] Mr Ferguson, APA’s organising secretary, said of the planned national day of mourning: "The aborigines do not want protection... We have been protected for 150 years, and look what has become of us. Scientists have studied us and written books about us as though we were some strange curiosities, but they have not prevented us from contracting tuberculosis and other diseases, which have wiped us out in thousands."[6]

The APA ceased to exist in 1944, but was revived in 1963-1966.[7]


  1. ^ a b Coghill, Leonie (1997). Footprints: to country, kin and cultures. Curriculum Corporation. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-86366-367-0.
  2. ^ Attwood, Bain; Markus, Andrew (1999). The struggle for aboriginal rights: a documentary history. Allen & Unwin. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-86448-584-4.
  3. ^ Lake, Marilyn (2002). Faith: Faith Bandler, gentle activist. Allen & Unwin. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-86508-841-9.
  4. ^ a b Hinkson, Melinda; Harris, Alana (2001). Aboriginal Sydney: a guide to important places of the past and present. Aboriginal Studies Press. p. 22–24. ISBN 978-0-85575-370-2.
  5. ^ "Australian Aborigines' League". Collaborating for Indigenous Rights. National Museum of Australia. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  6. ^ "BLACK MAN'S VIEWPOINT". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 13 November 1937. p. 15. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  7. ^ http://indigenousrights.net.au/organisations/pagination/aborigines_progressive_association