Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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Exhibitions

  • From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra

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Archer, Caroline Lillian (1922 - 1978)

Born
1922
Cherbourg, Queensland, Australia
Died
1978
Narrabri, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation
Aboriginal activist

Summary

Caroline Archer was born in 1922 and is best known for her leadership in the 1970s of the One People of Australian League (OPAL), an organisation that sought to promote the interests of Aborignal people. She was appointed executive officer of OPAL in 1972, becoming the first Aboriginal person to hold the position.

Details

Caroline Archer was born at Cherbourg Aboriginal Reserve, where she received poor education and suffered from malnutrition. After working as a domestic servant at 'Whetstone' station near Inglewood, she moved to Brisbane, working first in a private home and then at the Canberra Hotel (1935-49), where she learnt to operate the switchboard. In 1950 she was employed as a PMG switchboard operator. On 29 December 1951 she married Fredrick Archer, a photographer; they had two daughters and a son. She opened an Aboriginal art shop, where she gave training to Aboriginal women.

In 1972 she was asked to run the Miss OPAL quest and was subsequently appointed the first Aboriginal executive officer of OPAL (the One People of Australia League). As State president of OPAL she travelled interstate to federal conferences and to lobby politicians. She was also nominated for election to the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee but failed to win election.

Caroline spent much of her time teaching Aboriginal culture to children all over Queensland and in Canberra. She died at Narrabri on her way back to Brisbane on 8 September 1978.

Sources used to compile this entry: From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra, Australian Women's Archives Project, February 2013, http://www.womenaustralia.info/exhib/ldkg; Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press, Sydney, 1988, 258 pp. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-78644.

Related entries

Presided

Archival resources

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)

  • Newspaper Clippings Relating to Caroline Archer, 1973 - 1975, AIAS MF 268; Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). Details

Leonarda Kovacic and Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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