Faith launched by Bill Deane

Faith: Faith Bandler, gentle activist, by Marilyn Lake

In a moving occasion, Sir William Deane, AC, launched Marilyn Lake's account of the life and times of one of Australia's best-loved and most widely respected citizens before a packed Mitchell Wing of the NSW State Library on Wednesday 7 August.

The book tells the story of Faith's extraordinary life, her journey from a childhood nurtured in a South Sea Islander community in northern New South Wales to national recognition as one of Australia's leading human rights activists.

Drawing on Faith's own vivid recollections, as well as extensive research in the archives, Marilyn Lake tells a lively story which captures the warmth of the woman - her sharp intelligence, her generosity, her calm, her stamina, her eloquence and her ability to have 'a bloody good time'. It brings alive the experience of the 1930s Depression, life in cosmopolitan Kings Cross in the 1940s and the intensity of political commitment in the 1960s and 1970s.

As a leader of campaigns for Aboriginal rights and against racial discrimination, Faith Bandler emerged as an unlikely but compelling public figure - a politically effective woman in a public culture dominated by men, a politician outside Parliament and a Black leader in a nation dedicated for most of her life to the ideal of White Australia.

The success of the 1967 referendum on Aboriginal citizenship was a tribute to her leadership and influence - to this day, of more than 40 attempts to change the Constitution by referendum, only eight have succeeded. Eloquent and elegant, Faith Bandler became that rare phenomenon in Australia: a charismatic public person.

A Life Member of the Evatt Foundation, in 1997 Faith was awarded the Human Rights Medal by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in Sydney. In 2000 Nelson Mandela presented her with an award on behalf of the Sydney Peace Foundation. Her exemplary courage in fighting for an end to racism and her capacity for moral leadership have never been more relevant.

About the Author

Marilyn Lake is a leading historian of twentieth century Australia, author of numerous books, chapters and articles and co-author of Creating a Nation, which won the Human Rights Medal for non-fiction in 1994. She is Australia's leading authority on the political history of women, having published numerous accounts of women's activism and authoring the first history of Australian feminism, Getting Equal: The History of Feminism in Australia.

A regular media commentator on gender, politics and history, Marilyn Lake's work on citizenship, nationalism and gender has been widely acclaimed internationally and included in several anthologies published in the United States and Britain. She currently holds the Chair in Australian Studies at Harvard University.

Publisher: Allen & Unwin Australia