Even as a child, Faith Bandler (86) showed the many qualities that blossomed in her later life. The abuse and exclusion she experienced as an indigenous schoolgirl in white Australia left a lasting impression on her, but she still exudes a serenity that belies her extraordinary energy for the cause of justice for indigenous peoples, for women, and for the peace movement. Indigenous Australians and Pacific Islanders have been the direct beneficiaries of her crusade. Her work for abolition of war and elimination of poverty has been of international significance, earning her several major awards.
Growing up as an indigenous person in Australia and knowing of the horror and destruction of World War II made Faith Bandler dedicate her life to the cause of indigenous peoples, peace, and abolition of war. “For a black person, living in a white society, the discrimination is there since birth. Blacks were always being treated as third class citizens and women were at a disadvantage in many ways. I always had a great sense of justice and felt a strong urge to rectify these problems. This is the driving force that gives me energy and keeps me going in my fight for human rights and peace.” Confronted with racism at all levels – institutional, social, and personal – Faith says there were always difficulties in the struggle. Her vision of a peaceful future is the total absence of war and elimination of poverty. “We should remember that we have maintained relatively constant world peace since World War II. We, as people, have to be vigilant and keep governments vigilant. We have to condemn people who think war is a solution and encourage verbal communication.” Even today, Faith participates in peace marches. She was there when Sydneysiders walked the streets to stop the Australian government from joining the Coalition of the Willing in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. With two lovely granddaughters to improve the world for, she hopes for nothing more than total abolition of war. “When we take war out, we take hatred out and encourage communication, leading to a peaceful world,” says Faith, whose vision for the future is a world where the poor have the opportunity to be educated, have good housing, reliable communications and all those human rights many people take for granted. She has utmost conviction that, “We can change anything. Nothing is set in concrete. We can have a peaceful world.”
Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship Women's Electoral Lobby (WEL) Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI)