Fred Maynard and the Awakening of Aboriginal Political Conciousness and Activism in Twentieth Century Australia
John Maynard's traditional roots lie with the Worimi people of Port Stephens. His thesis titled Fred Maynard and the Awakening of Aboriginal Political Consciousness and Activism in Twentieth Century Australia, examines the rise in the mid 1920s of the first organised Aboriginal political protest movement. "This all-Aboriginal organisation called the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association, or AAPA was headed by my grandfather Fred Maynard. The AAPA's demands centred on Aboriginal rights to land, stopping the government practice of taking Aboriginal children from their families, acquiring citizenship rights, and defending Aboriginal cultural identity", John explains. "Aboriginal heroes and heroines were erased from Australian history - my work sets to bring them back".
The awarding of his doctorate held special significance on several fronts. It marked the culmination of several years' intensive study within the university environment. He had ventured to Wollotuka in 1994 as a mature age student and progressed with a Diploma of Aboriginal Studies in 1996, a BA with the University of South Australia in 1999 and his PhD in 2003. John became the first male to graduate with a PhD from the Umulliko Indigenous Higher Education Research Centre. John believes that being the first male PhD to graduate from Umulliko is something to be proud of and hopes that it will inspire other Aboriginal men to similar academic achievements.
John had juggled his studies with work within the university as research assistant and associate lecturer at Wollotuka, research officer with Aboriginal and Islander Health at the University of Newcastle, Visiting History Fellow at ANU, Visiting History Fellow with Flinders University and research academic with Umulliko.
He has had sustained success with competitive grants. His areas of research expertise include the rise of the Aboriginal political movement in the 1920s, the history of Aboriginal jockeys, Aboriginal involvement in the steel industry, inter-relationships between Aboriginal men and white women, and traditional Aboriginal life in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. He has conducted archival and oral historical research on behalf of several major institutions including the National Library of Australia, State Library of New South Wales, State Library of Victoria, The University of Newcastle, Australian National University and National Museum of Australia. He has held several important fellowships including - the Stanner Fellow (ANU), NSW Premiers Indigenous History Fellow and Australian Research Council Indigenous Research Cadetship.
"Umulliko is an inspirational environment", John says. "Its Director John Lester, has been a constant source of inspiration and support". Dr. Maynard is now a research academic with Umulliko.
The candidate has made a major contribution to Australian historiography. He has brought to life several major figures of the 1920s and has discovered much hitherto unknown material about Aboriginal politics. Interpretations can never be the same again. Mr Maynard has found this material by carrying out extensive research often among sources not hitherto used. This is a major achievement. This thesis should be published. (Professor Henry Reynolds)
This thesis fulfils the requirements for acceptance for the award of the degree. It is the result of sustained and tenacious research in both documentary and oral evidence, with the results that it has significantly increased our knowledge of the AAPA and of Fred Maynard's life. While these are the focus of the thesis, it contains a number of sub themes, which allow the work to offer a panorama of related activity among both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal activists in the 1920s… This thesis should be offered for publication. (Associate Professor Heather Goodall)
This is a very significant thesis, addressing as it does the history of Aboriginal activism in the 1920s, a matter too often forgotten in other histories. It uses a combination of sources, newspaper, government archives, and oral history interviews to establish a good deal about the life and activism of Fred Maynard and of the organisation he helped to found the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association.
The thesis is significant also in being by an Indigenous author, not just because Indigenous historians are rare and much needed in this country, but because his background enables him to provide some new insights and perspectives.
One aspect of the thesis is of special interest the balanced and subtle discussion of the role of non-Aboriginal people in the Aboriginal political movement of the 1920s. It seems to me they are given full attention and credit without diminishing the role of the Aboriginal activists in any way. This is not an easy thing to do and the author is to be congratulated on his approach and insight. (Professor Ann Curthoys).