For instance, in 1953, Gibbs wrote to the premier to question if Aboriginal people were to be allowed equal and fair treatment and should be served in private and public places. The premier responded that if Aboriginal people were not served equally they had the same right of recompense as would any other person, establishing a formal designation of equality for the Indigenous peoples.
The Council for Aboriginal Rights held a conference on in 1953 and Gibbs was one of the main speakers. She again affirmed her goals of citizenship rights and equal representation on the Aborigines Welfare Board in her speech (Horner, 1983; Gilbert, 2005). Gibbs personally began to taste her goals of equality for all when in 1954 Gibbs was elected to a seat on the board assigned to handle the issues of mixed-race Aborigines (Gilbert, 2005). However, the taste of equality was brief. This was one of the first times that Gibbs found little respect for her opinions as she found that she had very little power as an Aboriginal member of the board. Gibbs was of the opinion that as both the female and an Aborigine she was not given the respect her position demanded and she was left out of the significant decisions made by the board. So in 1956 Gibbs organized and inspired the formation of the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship (AAF). This group became a dauntless advocate for Aboriginal rights and allowed an open forum and discussion for both white and black activists until the late 1960s. Gibbs was the Fellowship's vice-president in its very first year and found it to be a much more effective forum then her efforts with the welfare board. Gibbs continued to campaign strongly against the limitations of Aboriginal civil rights including the restrictions on Aborigine access to alcoholic beverages, free movement, and equal education and employment opportunities. In 1957 the AAF developed a formal petition to change the Australian Constitution and Gibbs worked tirelessly on this endeavor (Gilbert, 2005).
In 1957 Gibbs resigned her position at both the welfare board and her official role in the AAF; however, she still continued to be an active member in the AAF. After resigning from the board Gibbs went on to establish the first hostel in New South Wales. The hostel functioned to meet the needs of countryside Aborigines who needed medical services and was constructed via funds Gibbs had personally procured from the Waterside Workers Union and the Aborigines Welfare Board (Gilbert, 2005). The board assigned Gibbs to be the warden of the hostel, and despite this move Gibbs never dampened her activism for Aboriginal rights or her criticism of the board (Goodall, 1983; Horner, 1983). After the hostel closed Gibbs stayed on as a tenant. Gibbs remained at the hostel in North Dubbo until her death (Gilbert, 2005).
Prior to the Aboriginal -- Australian Fellowship conference in 1965 Gibbs, now 60 years old, traveled through New South Wales in an effort to get the Aboriginal peoples there to attend the conferences. She was supported in this effort by Ray Pechham and Ken Brindle. Gibbs health had begun to fail but she remained active to her cause until her death and her passion never dampened (Goodall, 1988).
Gibbs passed away on 28 April 1983 and was buried at the new Catholic cemetery (Gifford, 2005). Her final newspaper interview occurred three months before she died. In the interview she stated her hope regarding the return of the land rights to the Aborigines, but acknowledged that there was a long tough road ahead. She never lived to see many of her goals such as a formal government recognition of the atrocities and the serious efforts targeted at a formal return of land rights occurring in recent times (Commonwealth of Australia, 2012).
Gibbs' achievements were many, but one of her greatest legacies results from her uncanny ability to bring together people from highly diverse backgrounds and interests to advocate for the rights of Aboriginal people. Gibbs lived reconciliation long before it was ever conceived of as part of Australia. Gibbs was a central figure for Aboriginal activism; she was a keen intellect, a great teacher and an indispensible colleague. Her legacy lives on.
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Attwood, B. & Magowan, F. (2001).Telling stories: Indigenous history and memory in Australia and New Zealand. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.
Celermajer, D. (April 22, 2005). The stolen generation: Aboriginal children In Australia human rights dialogue: "Cultural rights." In Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/publications/archive/dialogue/2_12/section_1/514
Commonwealth of Australia (2012). Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution: Report of the Expert Panel. Retrieved November 3, 2012 from http://www.youmeunity.org.au/uploads/assets/html-report/index.html.
Gilbert, K. (1988). Pearl Gibbs: Aboriginal patriot. Aboriginal History, 7(1), 4-9.
Glbert, S. (2005). Never forgotten: Pearl Gibbs (Gambanyi). In Cole, A., Haskins, V.…