Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer


Pair of short white cotton gloves worn by Aboriginal rights activist Faith Bandler


Pair of short white cotton gloves worn by Aboriginal rights activist Faith Bandler

Object information

Physical description

A pair of ladies' short white gloves, without a manufacturer's label. They have a zig zag stitch decoration and partial double fold at hem to wrist edge.

Statement of significance

The Faith Bandler collection consists of a pair of 1960s white gloves, which she wore while campaigning for the right of Aboriginal Australians to be constitutionally and legally recognized as Australian citizens during the 1967 referendum campaign. The short gloves, known as 'town' or 'day' gloves, are made of white cotton with a triple zigzag stitch decoration on the upper surface and stitching details around the fingers. There is a partial double fold at the wrist edge hem. Faith Bandler embodied the aspirations of Aboriginal Australians to be accepted as equals, and as 'one people' with white Australians. White gloves were representative of the formal dress code that was popular among middle class white women at that time. By wearing the gloves, Bandler hoped to be taken seriously by her predominantly white female audience.

The 1967 referendum on the 'Aboriginal question' was held to determine whether two references in the Australian Constitution, which discriminated against Aboriginal people, should be removed. A well-known Aboriginal activist, Bandler was appointed New South Wales campaign director by the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI) which was the peak body that campaigned for Indigenous rights during the period leading up to the Referendum. She argued that a YES vote was a vote for equal rights for Aboriginal citizens. The 'YES' vote in the 1967 referendum did not give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the right to vote. This right had been legislated for Commonwealth elections in 1962, with the last State to provide Indigenous enfranchisement being Queensland in 1965. This referendum saw the highest YES vote ever recorded in a Federal referendum, with 90.77 per cent voting for change. Because the majority of parliamentarians supported the proposed amendment, a NO case was never formulated for presentation as part of the referendum campaign. The Museum has an expanding collection of Collaborating for Indigenous Rights material. Faith Bandler's gloves are a key part of this collection which focuses on the struggles for Indigenous civil and land rights from the late 1950s to the 1970s.

Object information

Back to top