Publication Details

Martinez, J. T. 2005, ''The Limits of Solidarity: The North Australian Workers Union as Advocate of Aboriginal Assimilation'', in R. Nile & T. Rowse (eds), Contesting Assimilation, 1 edn, API Network, Curtin University, Perth WA. pp. 101


This chapter considers the role of the North Australian Workers' Union (NAWU) in shaping Aboriginal assimilation policies in the Northern Territory during the 1920s and 1930s. Their contribution to the government's policy directions was wide-ranging, covering diverse issues including the removal of children, calls for a non-discriminatory football code and a suggestion that so-called 'half-castes' be granted their own parliamentary representative. At each step, for better or worse, the NAWU was consistently in the frontline of the promotion of assimilation policy. Assimilation was important to the NAWU primarily as a means to achieve economic security. It was understood that Aboriginal workers would threaten white wages unless they could be included in the award wage system.