Joe McGinness

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Joseph Daniel "Joe" McGinness AM (1914-2003) was an Australian Aboriginal activist and the first Aboriginal president of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

McGinness was born in 1914 in the Northern Territory to Alngindabu (also known as Lucy), a member of the Kungarakany language group and Stephen McGinness, an Irish prospector and operator of a tin mine. The McGinness' has five children; Joe's brother Val McGinness would also be an activist as well as a musician and sportsperson. When their father died, McGinness, aged eight, and his sibligs were taken into a compound for "half caste" children in Darwin.[1]

Later McGinness was to serve in Borneo in World War II and work on the docks in Cairns. His experience in the union movement in Cairns led him to political activism with the Cairns Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League and later the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement, later known as the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI). He worked on the campaign for the 1967 referendum regarding Aboriginal affairs in Australia.[2]

McGinness was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 1990 Australia Day Honours list for service to the Aboriginal community.


  • McGinness, Joe (1991). Son of Alyandabu : my fight for aboriginal rights (1. publ. ed.). St. Lucia: Univ. of Queensland Press. ISBN 0702223352. 


  1. ^ Dewar, Mickey. "Alngindabu (1874–1961)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 21 September 2017. 
  2. ^ "Joe McGinness". Collaborating for Indigenous Rights. National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 21 September 2017.