Video Neville Bonner, 1991: beginnings

TLF ID M008339

This clip shows Aboriginal activist and politician Neville Bonner talking about his early life. He says that his mother was deserted by her first husband, after which the family moved to Lismore and lived on the bank of the Richmond River. The conditions there were 'very shocking'. Bonner's grandfather cleared an area under lantana bushes, and collected pieces of iron from rubbish dumps to build a shelter for the family. This clip is an excerpt from the program Neville Bonner (26 min), an episode of 'Australian biography' series 1, produced in 1991.

Educational details

Educational value
  • Neville Bonner (1922-99) was the first Aboriginal person to be elected as a member of the Australian Parliament. He was initially appointed by the Queensland Parliament to fill a casual senate vacancy, and went on to win in his own right as a Liberal Party Queensland senator in 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1980.
  • Bonner was a Jagara man who was born at Ukerebagh Island on the Tweed River. His mother was a Jagara woman and his father English. His father returned to England before Bonner was born. Bonner's achievements are made more remarkable by the hardship and discrimination he experienced in his life. He was born in the scrub because his mother, as an Aboriginal woman, was not permitted to enter the local hospital or the town after dusk. Bonner was only allowed to attend school for two years. After working as a rural labourer for many years, he began advocating Indigenous rights through the One People of Australia League (OPAL), later becoming its Queensland president.
  • Bonner continued to be active in a wide range of community affairs after leaving parliament, including some with an Indigenous focus. While still in parliament he was named Australian of the Year (1979). He was senior official visitor for Queensland prisons from 1990 to 1997. He was also appointed chairperson of the Queensland Government's Indigenous Advisory Council and served as a member of the board of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 1983 to 1991. Bonner was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1984 for services to politics and government.
Learning area
  • Civics and citizenship
  • History
  • Languages other than English
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: National Film and Sound Archive
  • Organization: National Film and Sound Archive
  • Description: content provider
  • Address: ACT, AUSTRALIA
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  • Publisher
  • Name: National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA)
  • Organization: National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA)
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: ACT, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Video
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