Country women and the colour bar: grassroots activism and the Country Women’s Association

Book cover of Country women and the colour bar - grassroots activism and the Country Women's Association
Oct, 2015
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1 October 2015
$39.95 RRP incl. GST

Country women and the colour bar is a timely corrective to established ideas about race relations in rural New South Wales. It reveals the untold story of grassroots efforts by Aboriginal and white women working together to make significant gains for Aboriginal communities prior to Aboriginal people’s widespread access to citizen’s rights.

In the 1950s and 1960s, in towns across New South Wales, specially created Aboriginal branches of the Country Women’s Association were established. Country women and the colour bar offers insights into the experience of ordinary Aboriginal and white rural women as they participated in beauty contests, cookery, handicraft lessons and baby contests. It reveals how Aboriginal assimilation policy met everyday reality as these rural women broke the rural colour bar in an unprecedented fashion and fostered cooperative campaigns for meaningful change in race-relations.
Some prominent Australians feature in these extraordinary stories: Jessie Street, Charles Perkins, Rachel Mundine and Purth Moorhouse.

Reviews and endorsements

‘This well researched and highly original book shows the leading role of Aboriginal women in asserting Aboriginal identity and modernity in the era of assimilation policy and continuing racial discrimination.’ — Professor Ann Curthoys, author of Freedom Ride: A Freedom Rider remembers

 ‘Jennifer Jones’ examination of the relationship between the arbiters of rural respectability and good housekeeping, the CWA, and Aboriginal women is a fresh and valuable addition to Australian racial studies.’ — Dr Christine Cheater, University of Tasmania

 ‘Country women and the Colour Bar reveals the important role of the CWA in advancing social change at a time of limited freedoms and rights as well as social exclusion and blatant discrimination for and of Aboriginal people.’ — Mrs Tanya Cameron, State President CWA (NSW)


Last reviewed: 10 Jul 2020