Please see below for a brief history of the Aboriginal Support Group – Manly Warringah Pittwater (ASG), including some key events that have taken place in our local area of Sydney’s Northern Beaches and in the larger context of Indigenous Australian issues.


Pam Beasley, Enid McIlraith & Tom Gavranic meet on a bus on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and sow the seeds for development of a local Aboriginal Support Group. The early focus of this group is the proposal by the Aboriginal Treaty Committee, under the chairmanship of Dr H.C “Nugget” Coombs, to develop formal treaty negotiations between the Commonwealth Government and the Indigenous people of Australia.


Members of the ASG move beyond their sole focus of a treaty in acknowledgment that broader social, economic and cultural issues underpin the very idea of a treaty. An important early mentor of the Group is Kevin Cook, General Secretary of Tranby Aboriginal Cooperative College.


First ASG newsletter published.

ASG members join Murri people in their demonstrations at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games in support of basic human rights and Aboriginal land rights. This raises awareness within the Group about non-violent direct action and prompts the organisation of related workshops in conjunction with the Manly Warringah Peace Movement.

New South Wales State Government establishes NSW Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs to implement proposed Aboriginal land rights legislation. ASG members listen and learn about the issues, lobby their representatives, and circulate a petition in relation to the pending legislation.


                NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 enacted to compensate the Aboriginal people of New South Wales for the dispossession of their lands, and establishes three-tiered system of Aboriginal Land Councils in NSW.

Release of the film, Lousy Little Sixpence, which depicts the lives of Aboriginal children removed from their communities by the Aboriginal Protection Board. ASG hosts a public showing of this film at Narrabeen attended by cast and crew.


                ASG members support forums organised by National Committee to Defend Black Rights (NCDBR) to raise awareness and activism relating to the issue of disproportionate rates of Aboriginal deaths in police custody.

ASG conducts series of discussion groups about racism.


Action for World Development (AWD) begins racism awareness work. ASG members involved in training workshops.

ASG Newsletter given the name Elimatta and produced via computer.

Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody announced.


                The Long March for Justice, Freedom and Hope arrives in Sydney as a counterpoint to the country’s Bicentennial celebrations. Thousands of Indigenous people and their supporters marched and rallied peacefully to celebrate 200 years of survival under colonisation. ASG members were ecstatic participants in the large crowd.

New Liberal government in New South Wales announces its intention to repeal the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 and roll back reforms. ASG members join others around the state in lobbying against the proposed changes.


                ASG members invited to observe workshops and performances at the National Black Playwrights Conference held at Macquarie University. News feature produced for Radio Northern Beaches.

ASG organises public meeting about land rights, featuring Chris Kirkbright of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.

Kooris and supporters (including ASG members) march to and rally at Parliament House in Sydney urging Liberal government to defer passing amendments to the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 until wider consultation with Aboriginal people can take place. Government passes its changes in late night session after protesters disperse.


                ASG moves its meetings to the Intensive Learning Centre at Narrabeen High School.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) established as Australia’s national policy making and service delivery agency for Indigenous people.

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) reports findings from its National Inquiry into Racist Violence. The report finds that Aboriginal people, non-English speaking people (especially those of Muslim or Asian background), and anti-racist activists are the most likely targets of attack.

Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody presents its report and recommendations to the Federal Government. The final recommendation supports the concept of a process of national reconciliation between Indigenous and settler Australians.

The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation is formed with cross-party support in Federal Parliament. The Council is given a ten-year life span from 1991 to 2000.


First Survival Day concert organised at La Perouse in Sydney. Held on ‘Invasion Day’ – 26 January – the annual festival celebrates survival of Aboriginal people since 1788 colonisation.

ASG organises a public meeting in Dee Why featuring Fred Hollows, director of the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program. Hollows discusses his work among Aboriginal communities and his findings that more than half of the Aboriginal people he examined have trachoma and that infection rates reach 80% in some areas.

ASG members assist with community garden project on Eveleigh Street, Redfern.

Manly Council establishes NAIDOC Week Committee, with active involvement of ASG. The Committee organises the first commemoration of NAIDOC Week (National Aborigines & Islander Day Observance Committee) on the Northern Beaches, an event that has been observed annually since then.

Aboriginal flag raised at Manly for the first time in honour of NAIDOC Week in July.

ASG organises public forum entitled Dare to Be No Longer Strangers, featuring several prominent Aboriginal figures including Kevin Cook, Diat Callope, Lydia Miller, Rhoda Roberts, and Pauline McLeod, who spoke about a range of Aboriginal issues.

Prime Minister Paul Keating acknowledges past wrongs to Indigenous Australians in his famous speech at Redfern (Sydney) launching the International Year of the Indigenous People.

ASG helps organise public meeting (as part of the Year of Indigenous People) honouring Guatemalan human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchu.

Pittwater Local Government Council established.

The High Court of Australia rules in the Mabo case to recognise native title rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and overturn the idea of terra nullius, the legal basis upon which Australia was colonised.


ASG members among the lucky few to see Bangarra Dance Company perform at sunrise on Turrimetta Beach.

Pittwater and Warringah Councils join Manly in supporting NAIDOC celebrations on the Peninsula. For the first time ever, the Aboriginal flag flies all along the Northern Beaches during NAIDOC Week.

ASG sponsors a public forum called Kooris in Education, featuring Lois Birk, Les Stewart, Diat Callope and Pearl Wymarra, who all spoke about Aboriginal education from the perspectives of their work.


                Federal Native Title Act 1993 becomes law, resulting from the High Court’s decision in the Mabo case.

Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue unveils the Manly Council heritage plaque recognising the Gayimai, traditional clan owners of the Manly area.

ASG organises NAIDOC Week forum on Aboriginal health and the Aboriginal Medical Service called Partnership and Participation, featuring Sr Dulcie Flower and Dr Frank Brennan.

ASG members involved in the Aboriginal History Committee (AHC) rally at Sydney’s Town Hall to bring public attention to the possible destruction of the Australia Hall in Elizabeth Street Sydney, site of the 1938 Day of Mourning Conference and Protest.


ASG organises NAIDOC Week public forum entitled Educating With Vision, featuring Linda Burney and Lorelle Savage speaking about issues of reconciliation and Aboriginal justice being incorporated into the mainstream curriculum.

Kamilaroi artists Gavan Flick and Alanna Rose speak about their artistic enterprise, Gavala, at a meeting and exhibition organised by the ASG.

National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families is established in response to efforts made by key Indigenous agencies and communities.

NSW Government establishes inquiry into the conservation of the Australia Hall building and some members of the ASG begin working at the Office of the National Aboriginal History and Heritage Committee (formerly AHC).


                Reconciliation Study Circles commence at Manly Warringah Community College.

First national Reconciliation Week held from 27 May to 3 June, an initiative of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

Local celebration of NAIDOC Week in July continues all along the Northern Beaches, including the inaugural Cooee Classic surfing event.

Hearings of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families are held in Sydney. ASG members attend the hearings, make written submissions, and organise a sunrise vigil together with Action for World Development (AWD).

In one of the first tests of the Native Title Act 1993, the High Court finds in its Wik decision that native title is not extinguished by pastoral leases. This decision addresses a major gap left in the legislation and finds that both types of land use can co-exist.


                In response to the Wik decision, the federal government under John Howard develops a Ten Point Plan as the basis for amending the Native Title Act 1993. The amendments represent a significant rollback of the gains made with the Mabo and Wik decisions.

Australians for Native Title & Reconciliation (ANTaR) founded by a broad coalition of individuals and organisations in response to the threat to existing Native Title legislation. ASG represented at initial meetings and remain active in this national movement.

Patrick Dodson, Chair of the Reconciliation Council, visits Mater Maria High School in Warriewood.

ASG helps stage Festival of Cultural Diversity on the Manly Corso as a symbolic gesture in response to the opening of One Nation Party National Office in Manly.

Bringing Them Home, the report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families tabled in Federal Parliament.

ASG members among the many delegates at the Australian Reconciliation Convention held in Melbourne under the auspices of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

NSW Parliament offers apology to the Aboriginal people of New South Wales for harm brought about by past government policies of dispossession and child removal.

Manly Council presents to the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) an apology to the Aboriginal community during NAIDOC Week.

Pittwater Council establishes Aboriginal Reconciliation process by forming a committee to begin community education and consultation, as well as to draft a formal statement of Reconciliation.

Warringah Council initiates NAIDOC Week Breakfasts, which bring Aboriginal and settler Australians together, including politicians, representatives from ATSIC and MLALC, and local community members.

ASG organises public meeting entitled The Stolen Generation: Their Stories – Our History, featuring Carol Kendall and Lola McNaughton, who share their stories as members of the Stolen Generation and of their work with Link-Up (NSW) helping to support others who have been separated from their families.

Wik-Ed established in Sydney to help educate the public about the issues of land rights being debated at the national level. Some ASG members involved with this group.

Opinion in the Pub forum at Newport Arms asks Has Reconciliation Come Too Late?, featuring Fr Frank Brennan and Jenny Munro.

Warringah Council launches Reconciliation Strategy at its first Aboriginal Reconciliation Forum.

ASG members help raise funds to send David Watts, Indigenous Sites Officer with the MLALC, to Greenland on a cultural exchange.

ASG moves its meetings to the Radio Northern Beaches building at Narrabeen High School.


                ASG members join protest outside the Australia Hall building, marking 60th Anniversary of Day of Mourning. Permanent conservation order finally placed on building.

ASG members join a large peoples’ protest against the Ten Point Plan at Parliament House in Canberra.

ASG and Wik-Ed organise A Night of Reconciliation for the Peninsula, a forum which attracts over 600 people. The event features Peter Garrett (singer), Susan Bradley (pastoralist), lawyers Garth Nettheim and Jeff Kildea, Pauline McLeod (storyteller), Betty Little (singer), and Aden Ridgeway (Director of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council).

First National Sorry Day marked on 26 May to commemorate the history of forced removals and its effects on Aboriginal families. The day is meant to assist the healing process for members of the Stolen Generations and was one recommendation contained in the Bringing Them Home report. ASG members circulate Sorry Books for signature and are among the crowds at both Northern Beaches and Sydney events.

Pittwater Council adopts a Statement of Reconciliation.

Warringah Council adopts a Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation.

Representatives from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) present to residents at a Warringah Council forum its plans for sustainable management of its land holdings in the area.

For NAIDOC Week, ASG organises a history and heritage walk with Aboriginal Sites Officer, David Watts, and National Parks Archaeologist, Phil Hunt.

Djalarinji – Something that Belongs to Us, curated by Tess McLennan, exhibited at Manly Art Gallery as part of NAIDOC Week.

Corrugation Road, a play by Jimmy Chi, opens at Glen Street Theatre in Belrose.

The Native Title Amendment Act (based on Howard’s ten point plan) passes in the federal senate by a very close margin, representing significant reductions in native title rights for Aboriginal people and resulting in significant losses to the rights recognised in the High Court’s Mabo and Wik decisions.

Several members of ASG travel with the Sea of Hands across Australia, raising awareness about new native title amendments and bringing a message of solidarity and reconciliation to Aboriginal communities across the country.

Tripartite Agreement signed by the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Warringah Council and the Brookvale Valley Community Group, to cooperatively manage MLALC land at the back of Brookvale.


                ASG receives Manly Council’s Community Event of the Year Award for organising the forum, A Night of Reconciliation for the Peninsula.

Four artists from Ernabella Arts, an art centre located in Anangu Pitjantjatjara country in South Australia, spend two weeks working with artists at Warringah Printmakers Studio in Manly Vale. The exchange is organised by ASG member Hannah Semler and Group members help to host the visiting artists.

Journey of Healing launched across Australia on 26 May, as an annual commemoration of Sorry Day. ASG organises a local commemoration at the Tramshed on Narrabeen Lake.

Susan Moylan-Coombs becomes chair of Manly Council’s NAIDOC committee.

Sea of Hands planted on Manly Beach for NAIDOC Week.

Emma Lee engaged to write an Aboriginal local history of the Peninsula as part of a project supported by Warringah, Manly and Pittwater Councils, as well as the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, NSW Heritage Office and the NSW Ministry for the Arts.

Talking Up Reconciliation, the NSW Reconciliation Conference, held in Wollongong and attended by a number of ASG members. Consultation on the Draft Declaration for Reconciliation is a key topic, as are plans for ‘keeping the ball rolling’ following cessation of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in 2000.

Premier of documentary Whiteys Like Us about a Reconciliation Study Circle held at Manly Warringah Community College. The film goes on to win numerous awards.

ASG sponsors racism awareness workshops facilitated by AWD at Manly High School.

Guringai Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) holds first Aboriginal Education Achievement Awards on the northern beaches. ASG receives community award.

Aboriginal Support Group – Manly Warringah Pittwater celebrates 20th anniversary in October.


                ANTaR receives Manly Council’s Community Event of the Year award for Sea of Hands event on Manly Beach.

North Sydney, Willoughby and Warringah Councils jointly appoint David Watts as Indigenous Heritage Manager for the protection of Aboriginal sites in their local government areas.

ASG organises a local Journey of Healing fire ceremony at Narrabeen Lake on 26 May.

Corroboree 2000 at the Sydney Opera House marks presentation of documents of Reconciliation by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation to national leaders. ASG members hold banners and signs as they join more than 250,000 marchers in the People’s Walk for Reconciliation across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Many present renew the call for a Treaty.

My Place Your Place Our Place exhibition at the Manly Art Gallery includes works created by artists from Ernabella Arts and the Warringah Printmakers Studio, as part of their ongoing collaboration.

Evelyn Scott, Chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, presents the ASG and three other local community groups with national Reconciliation Awards at a Warringah Council NAIDOC Week forum.

Pilot training of facilitators for the Relaxation and Stress Management Project for Indigenous Communities, an initiative of ASG members.

Sister-City relationship established between Warringah and Brewarrina Councils.

Northern Sydney Aboriginal Social Plan is published, coordinated by Carolyn Pattison, Aboriginal Project Officer.

Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation ends its ten-year term after delivering its final report to Parliament. Reconciliation Australia Foundation established to continue the work.


                Venue for ASG meeting moves to Nelson Healther Centre in North Narrabeen, and Information Nights are introduced on the first Monday of the month.

ASG Quarterly Calendar of Events introduced as a supplement to Elimatta.

Manly Council unveils Tide, a public artwork in Rialto Square which acknowledges the Aboriginal history of the area.

Ernabella Arts and Warringah Printmakers Studio hold a “return” exhibition at Manly Vale Community Centre.

ASG commemorates the Journey of Healing at Narrabeen Lake, a public event which draws more than 200 people.

ASG commemorates the Journey of Healing at Narrabeen Lake.

First Guringai Festival (May 26 to July 15) conceived by Susan Moylan-Coombs, Chair of the Steering Committee. With the theme Footprints on The Peninsula it celebrates Aboriginal culture and heritage on the Northern Beaches. The ASG presents the first series of Footprints On Celluloid. Pittwater Council conducts workshops led by Nikki McCarthy with High School students creating a public artwork and Manly Council holds forum called Treaty: Let’s Get It Right.

Manly Council opens the restored Arabanoo Lookout at Tania Park, Dobroyd Point.

ASG nominates Jill Perkins, facilitator for the Group over many years, to be represented in the Centenary of Federation Peoplescape art installation on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra.


                Pittwater Council presents its Community Event of the Year Award to the ASG in recognition for the 2001 Journey of Healing event.

Challenging Racism Game is held at Manly Warringah Community College, organised by the ASG in conjunction with AWD.

Warringah Council includes two events in its Seniors Week program focusing on Aboriginal issues: a bus tour of Aboriginal sites with David Watts, Aboriginal Heritage Manager, and the screening at the Dee Why RSL Club of Around The Kitchen Table, a film by the Women’s Reconciliation Network.

Pittwater Council invites Allen Madden, Education Officer with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC), to lead a walk through Angophora Reserve, Avalon, during NSW Heritage Week.

John Lennis, Aboriginal Educational Officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, delivers a talk at ASG Information Night about Cadi Jam Ora – First Encounters, a display at the Gardens which focuses on the plants used by the Cadigal people of Sydney for medicine, food and tools.

Manly Council changes the name of its NAIDOC Week Committee to Manly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Guringai Festival) Committee (MATSIC). MATSIC is chaired by Susan Moylan-Coombs.

Phyllis Orcher is appointed Aboriginal Project Officer for the Northern Sydney Aboriginal Plan and is based at Manly Community Centre.

Journey of Healing commemoration is held at Narrabeen Lake, featuring a daytime program of face-painting, storytelling and crafts.

Second Guringai Festival (May 26 to July 14) has the theme Respect For Place. ASG runs a second film series of Footprints on Celluloid and Rachel Perkins’ One Night The Moon is screened free of charge at Collaroy Cinema as a result of a partnership between the ASG, Collaroy Cinema, Warringah Council and Dendy Films.

A book recounting the history of the Aboriginal Support Group from 1979 to 2000 is launched at Narrabeen Lake. Called A Story to Tell … on a Road Toward Reconciliation, the book tells the story of a cooperative of people committed to supporting Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people and the struggle for justice in Australia. Click here for details.

ASG receives a grant from Dee Why RSL Club to fund a year’s publication of Elimatta.

Warringah Council invites Elder Nancy Wood to open the Multicultural Dance Festival at Warringah Mall.

Biala Aboriginal Girls’ Hostel hosts the Annual Graduation Ceremony for NSW Aboriginal Hostel students, a residential event at Narrabeen Sports Centre.

Warringah Council launches The Tale of a Whale: Significant Aboriginal Landscapes of the Northern Beaches, written by Emma Lee with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.


                The ASG, with funding from Warringah Council, produces a bookmark outling the protocol for acknowledgement of country at the start of public events. The bookmark is launched at Manly Dam by Allen Madden during Seniors Week. Click here for details.

The Tale of a Whale receives a commendation in the Indigenous Cultural Heritage – Corporate/Government section of the 2003 National Trust Heritage Awards.

Journey of Healing is commemorated at St. Josephs Church Hall, Narrabeen, and tributes are paid to the memory of Pauline McLeod, master storyteller, poet and actor, who had died four days earlier.

Third Guringai Festival (May 26 to July 14) with the theme Honour The Ancestors is extended to include nine local government areas of Northern Metropolitan Sydney, the land covering traditional Guringai country. More than 40 events celebrated, including:

– ASG presentation of the Footprints on Celluloid film series and a free screening of Ivan Sen’s Beneath Clouds at Collaroy Cinema.

– Ku-ring-gai Council unveiling of Tribal Metaphysics, three bronze sculptures by local artist Nikki McCarthy, in the courtyard at Gordon Library.

– Exhibition at Manly Art Gallery of Dugong My Son (Gelam Nguzu Kazi), limited edition lino cuts by Torres Strait Islander artists.

– Pittwater Council and the ASG conduct a youth forum, In The Flesh, at Pittwater High School.

– Cooee Classic surfing event returns to Manly.

– Manly Council’s Ngurra Camp, featuring music workshops, a forum discussion and a well-supported ASG and ANTaR information stall.

Death of William Charles (Billy) Wentworth AO, aged 95 years, Federal MP for the local Mackellar district from 1949 to 1977 and the first Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

Warringah Council nominate The Tale of a Whale for the NSW Premier’s History Award 2003.

Warringah Council adopts Acknowledgement of Country Protocol. Warringah Council’s administrator, Dick Persson, accepted the ASG’s request to acknowledge the traditional land owners before all official functions and to fly the Aboriginal flag alongside the Australian flag outside the council chambers daily.