Aborigines' Friends' Association

Archive Collections / Aborigines' Friends' Association
From : 1858
To : 2000

The Aborigines' Friends' Association (AFA) was established in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1858 and incorporated in 1879. Its concern was 'the moral, spiritual and physical well-being of the natives of this province'.

In 1859 the AFA appointed George Taplin (see AA 319) as the first missionary teacher to work in the lower Murray districts. Taplin chose the site at Point McLeay (SA) or Raukkan as known to the local Aboriginal people, the Ngarrindjeri (Narrinyeri) to establish the first mission. The AFA continued to support Point McLeay after the Government assumed control in 1912.

Between 1925 and 1934 the AFA supported the missionary work of Ernest E Kramer (see AA 669) and his wife Eugenia in Central Australia.

The Rev. John Henry Sexton, OBE was Secretary of the Aborigines' Friends' Association for thirty-one years and subsequently served as President of the Association. Sexton entered the Baptist Ministry in 1885 and gained a reputation as a preacher, lecturer and organiser. He served a term as President of the Baptist Union, for 23 years was Secretary of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and was also actively connected with the work of the Adelaide City Mission for over 25 years. Sexton continued to play a leading role in the AFA until 1954. He was also responsible for a number of publications on issues relating to Australian Aboriginal people.

By the 1930s the AFA expressed its object as: 'to watch over the interests of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Australia and particularly the state of South Australia and the Northern Territory, and promote their spiritual and temporal well-being in any way that circumstances may suggest.'

The AFA wound up with its final meeting in 2000.

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Prepared ByMark Heyn and Mandy Paul