William Cooper 1937 Petition

In 1937, William Cooper sent a petition to the Commonwealth Parliament to be sent to King George VI, after previous attempts to petition King George V.  This petition sought an Aboriginal voice in Parliament. This petition was signed by 1,814 Aboriginal peoples from every State and Territory, except Tasmania.  Quite a feat for the times when many states restricted the free movement of Aboriginal peoples. William Cooper also wrote to Australian churches to seek their support of the petition.  However, tragically, in March 1938 the Commonwealth Parliament declined to send the petition to King George V.  


Of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Australia to His Majesty, King George VI, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland, and British Dominions beyond the seas, King; Defender of the Faith; Emperor of India.


THE HUMBLE PETITION of the undersigned Aboriginal inhabitants of the Continent of Australia respectfully sheweth:

THAT WHEREAS it was not only a moral duty, but a strict injunction, included in the commission issued to those who came to people Australia, that the original inhabitants and their heirs and successors should be adequately cared for; 

AND WHEREAS the terms of the commission have not been adhered to in that 

(a) Our lands have been expropriated by Your Majesty’s Governments, and 

(b) Legal status is denied to us by Your Majesty’s Governments; 

AND WHEREAS all petitions made on our behalf to Your Majesty’s Governments have failed. 

YOUR PETITIONERS humbly pray that Your Majesty will intervene on our behalf, and, through the instrument of Your Majesty’s Governments in the Commonwealth of Australia - will prevent the extinction of the Aboriginal race and give better conditions for all, granting us the power to propose a member of Parliament, of our own blood or white men known to have studied our needs and to be in sympathy with our race, to represent us in the Federal Parliament. 

AND YOUR PETITIONERS WILL EVER PRAY [Signatures of Petitioners.]