Tranby’s History

Making Change Happen

Celebrating our 60th Birthday this coming year, Tranby has a long history of making change happen. Tranby has been a place of reform, social change and social impact for Aboriginal Australians for decades.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this section may contain photographs and videos of deceased persons which may cause sadness or distress.


 

Alf Clint, Kylie Tennant and Directors of the Lockhart River Christian Cooperative, c.1959 Alf Clint, Kylie Tennant and Directors of the Lockhart River Christian Cooperative, c.1959
Black Deaths in Custody protest March, 1989 Black Deaths in Custody protest March, 1989
Land Rights March outside NSW Parliament, 13 August 1981 Land Rights March outside NSW Parliament, 13 August 1981
Farewell party for Charles French, July 1964 Farewell party for Charles French, July 1964
Aboriginal Australia Fellowship (AAF) Float, May Day, 1959 Aboriginal Australia Fellowship (AAF) Float, May Day, 1959
Opening of the New Buildings at Tranby, 1998 Opening of the New Buildings at Tranby, 1998
Troy Cassar Daley at the Friends of Tranby Dinner, 1995 Troy Cassar Daley at the Friends of Tranby Dinner, 1995
Operation Aborigine Launch, Martin Place, 1979 Operation Aborigine Launch, Martin Place, 1979
Drawing of Art Union No 5, April 1972 Drawing of Art Union No 5, April 1972
The opening of the new block at Tranby, 21 September 1963 The opening of the new block at Tranby, 21 September 1963
Bertha and Gloria Kapeen, Shop assistants, Numbahging Cooperative Store, Cabbage Tree Island, 1960 Bertha and Gloria Kapeen, Shop assistants, Numbahging Cooperative Store, Cabbage Tree Island, 1960
Alf Clint, Kylie Tennant and Directors of the Lockhart River Cooperative, c.1959 Alf Clint, Kylie Tennant and Directors of the Lockhart River Cooperative, c.1959
Lester Bostock in his study at Tranby, c.1964 Lester Bostock in his study at Tranby, c.1964
Mili Mili publication launch, August 1972 Mili Mili publication launch, August 1972
Four students of the Site Curators Course, 1986 Four students of the Site Curators Course, 1986
Tranby Sports Day, La Perouse 1988 Tranby Sports Day, La Perouse 1988
Oodgeroo Noonuccal (KathWalker), 25 February 1965 Oodgeroo Noonuccal (KathWalker), 25 February 1965
Blackbooks, 1988 Blackbooks, 1988
Diploma of Development Studies — Aboriginal Communities 1998 Diploma of Development Studies — Aboriginal Communities 1998
Aboriginal Development Unit (ADU) workshop, c. 1987 Aboriginal Development Unit (ADU) workshop, c. 1987

Alf Clint, Kylie Tennant and Directors of the Lockhart River Christian Cooperative, c.1959

From 1952, Alf Clint had been working in the Anglican mission of Lockhart River, encouraging the people to form a cooperative by which they might establish some economic independence. The LRCC was formed in 1954, originally operating in trochus shell. The President and Vice-President of the Coop, Frank O'Brien and John Butcher, came to Sydney in 1959 and undertook training in mechanics and shipbuilding.

The author Kylie Tennant describes the visit she and Alf made the same year in her book "Speak you so gently". In 1971 the Lockhart River community was moved inland.

Archives Series 61/5

Black Deaths in Custody protest March, 1989

Throughout the 1980s, following the death of Eddie Murray,  John Pat and so many others, the Aboriginal community fought for change until in 1988 the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADC) was established.

Judge Bob Bellear, a former Chairman of Tranby, was counsel assisting the Commissioner. Tranby was involved in DIC protest marches like this 1989 march, photographed by a student. After the RCIADC closed on 30 May 1989, Tranby's involvement continued, with the Aboriginal Development Unit conducting workshops in regional NSW to inform Aboriginal communities of the RCIADC Recommendations.

Archives Series 61 / 46.

Land Rights March outside NSW Parliament, 13 August 1981

The march was held to support the NSW Parliamentary Select Committee report on Aboriginal Land Rights tabled in Parliament that day.

The fight for land rights had been a passion of Kevin Cook, who became the first Aboriginal and second General Secretary of the Cooperative for Aborigines Ltd in 1980. His involvement with the Black Defence Group in the late 1970s, and then as chair of the lobby group NSW Aboriginal Lands Council formed in 1981, led Tranby to become the "meeting place and resource centre" for the network of land rights campaigners. (Flick & Goodall, 2004)

Archives Series 61/47.

Copyright held by Adrian Lipscombe.

Farewell party for Charles French, July 1964

Charles French first came to Tranby from the NSW North Coast on a part-scholarship. He studied at the Fort Street Evening College and in 1963 attended the Sydney Technical College matriculation class, while working in the NSW Public Works Department.

In 1964 he received a UNESCO Scholarship for study and travel in adult education and Cooperative activity at the Coady International Institution, Nova Scotia. (Kevin Cook studied at the same place in 1979).

In 1966 and 1967 French was a full-time student in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney, although he did not complete the degree.

Archives Series 61/34

Aboriginal Australia Fellowship (AAF) Float, May Day, 1959

The caption on the back reads, "It was very good". The May Day marches were an important day in the Union calendar and many Tranby staff and associates participated over the years.

There was a lot of crossover between Tranby staff and students, and organisations like the AAF and FCAATSI, as well as later groups like the National Coalition of Aboriginal Organisations (NCAO) and Trade Union Committee on Aboriginal Rights (WCAR). As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gained rights and their voices came to be heard, attitudes of the non-Aboriginal staff at Tranby grew and developed with those of the broader community.

Archives Series 61 / 33

Opening of the New Buildings at Tranby, 1998

After nearly 40 years of cramped teaching spaces and a lack of facilities, the Co-operative decided to design and build new buildings.

Architects Julie Cracknell and Peter Lonergan worked with Tranby to ensure the complex was designed in sympathy with both the Victorian feel of the suburb and a holistic approach to Aboriginal education reflecting Indigenous learning circle practices. The New Buildings out the back were officially opened by long-time Tranby friend, Isabel Flick.

Photograph courtesy of Mervyn Bishop.

Related photos held in Archives Series 61/1.

Troy Cassar Daley at the Friends of Tranby Dinner, 1995

The Friends of Tranby fundraising venture was launched in 1994. Its ambitious aim was raise $1 million over 5 years to provide Tranby with an independent means of funding.

FOT developed a newsletter, held BBQs and art auctions and hosted the Almost-Annual Dinner at the NSW Leagues Club for 10 years. Guests of honour included Pat Dodson, Mick Dodson, Evelyn Scott, Linda Burney, and Bob Bellear, while the donation of cartoons by Bruce Petty for the auction always produced feverish bidding.

Archives Series 61 /1

Operation Aborigine Launch, Martin Place, 1979

Journalist Leo Kelly was employed between 1979 and 1981 to set up Operation Aborigine, dedicated to the "emancipation of Aboriginal people" and to raise funds for the Co-operative, which he did under the Operation Aborigine banner.

The OA logo was designed by Dick Roughsey (Mornington Island) and the launch of the initiative saw a large rainbow serpent thread its way through Martin Place. Kelly also produced the publication GooHalla for two issues.

Archives Series 61/37.

Copyright held by News Limited.

Drawing of Art Union No 5, April 1972

Alf Clint did not believe in receiving government funding and the Co-operative and Scholarship Fund relied on donations by unions and churches. Extra money was raised by the Tranby Women's Committee, Rainbow fetes, balls, door-to-door Subscriptions, and the Art Union raffles.

At this event, Marjorie Baldwin (now Jilpia Nappaljari Jones AM), trained nursing sister and entrant in the Miss Australia Quest that year, drew the raffle. She was working for the Aboriginal Medical Centre.

Archives Series 61 / 33

The opening of the new block at Tranby, 21 September 1963

In 1962 Alf Clint decided that Tranby would be better served as an independent organisation, the Cooperative for Aborigines Ltd, with the funding previously provided by the Australian Board of Missions funneled into scholarships at Tranby rather than staff salaries and working costs.

In 1963 the new building, funded by the NSW Government and the ABM, as well as clubs like Apex, provided more accommodation, a lecture room, library and recreation rooms.

Archives Series 61/46

Bertha and Gloria Kapeen, Shop assistants, Numbahging Cooperative Store, Cabbage Tree Island, 1960

The Numbahging Cooperative was formed in January 1960 on the government-run reserve of Cabbage Tree Island and chaired by the imposing figure of Bob Bolt. Many students came to Tranby from the area and the school-teacher Rus McCrohon, was a regular contributor to the Tranby training calendar.

In addition to the store, the Coop ran a 60-acre sugar plantation. A Four Corners program in 1963 detailed some of the hostility to Numbahging by Welfare Board staff and queried whether cooperatives were anti-assimilationist as they sought to give communities an economic base.

Archives Series 61/35.

Copyright held by R L Piggott (Happy Snaps, Ballina).

 

 

Alf Clint, Kylie Tennant and Directors of the Lockhart River Cooperative, c.1959

From 1952, Alf Clint had been working in the Anglican mission of Lockhart River, encouraging the people to form a cooperative by which they might establish some economic independence.

The LRCC was formed in 1954, originally operating in trochus shell. The President and Vice-President of the Coop, Frank O'Brien and John Butcher, came to Sydney in 1959 and undertook training in mechanics and shipbuilding.

The author Kylie Tennant describes the visit she and Alf made the same year in her book "Speak you so gently". In 1971 the Lockhart River community was moved inland.

Archives Series 61/5

 

Lester Bostock in his study at Tranby, c.1964

The caption on the back notes that Lester had undertaken his Diploma in Bookkeeping at the Metropolitan Business College, and was doing the Co-operative Diploma Course at Tranby.

He was Secretary of the Tranby Co-op Credit Union. Lester went on to work at Tranby as assistant to Alf Clint and bookkeeper until the early 1970s and since then has been a pioneer in Aboriginal theatre, film and radio amongst other achievements.

From the early 1960s Tranby offered tutoring and ran weekly classes in English, maths, bookkeeping, and co-operatives to around 20 male and 4 female full-time and part-time students in residence.

Archives Series 61/35

Mili Mili publication launch, August 1972

Since its inception, Tranby has produced a range of publications including Newsletters, the Aborigines Welfare Bulletin (1959 - 1965), Mili Mili, Goorialla (1979 - 1981), as well as student yearbooks. Mili Mili ran for 12 issues from 1972 to 1977 and covered Tranby specific events as well as charting local Aboriginal initiatives and providing international reports and essays on cooperative endeavours.

Archives Series 61/33

Four students of the Site Curators Course, 1986

With the introduction of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1983, in which Tranby staff had been so active, Tranby decided there was a need to introduce a course to train people to work for Land Councils as caretakers of Aboriginal sites in their areas.

The course run in 1985 with 6 students, and again in 1986 with some 20 students, covered laws and surveys, tactics, and management.

Archives Series 61/28

Tranby Sports Day, La Perouse 1988

In 1980 Tranby introduced TAFE-based vocational education courses in Literacy and Numeracy, Small Business Studies and the HSC-equivalent Certificate of General Proficiency.

Students could undertake electives in Video Skills, Writers Camps, and Photography and there were many extra-curricular activities such as sports days and orientation camps. The trophy from this Sports Day is also held in the Archives.

Archives Series 61/31

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (KathWalker), 25 February 1965

As part of the 6th Tranby Summer School, a debate was organised on the proposition that "the present policy of assimilation of Aborigines is in the best interest of both the Aborigines and the general community".

The Blacktown Jnr Chamber of Commerce argued for Assimilation while the Tranby team of Kath Walker, Pastor Doug Nichols (Aborigines Advancement League (Vic)) and Alan Duncan (University of Sydney) argued on the side of Integration.

Walker, Nichols and Duncan won. Walker was a good friend of Alf Clint's and her poems were often printed in Tranby publications.

Archives Series 61/34

Blackbooks, 1988

Established in 1982 as the Centre for Black Books, the bookshop provided a retail, mail order and distribution network for books by and about Aboriginal people. It produced its first catalogue in 1983, which provided access to some 300 books, and built up a sizeable mail order network to schools and communities particularly in rural areas.

The shop was first located in the front room at Tranby before moving to downstairs at Minnamurra (after 1987). Black Books was also involved in publishing books. It was closed in 2002.

Archives Series 61/46

Diploma of Development Studies — Aboriginal Communities 1998

In 1997 Tranby moved away from the TAFE-based courses, and introduced the HEROC course, National Indigenous Legal Studies (NILS), and in 1998 delivered two self-accredited courses, the Diploma of Development Studies — Aboriginal Communities (DSAC) and Advanced Diploma of Indigenous Studies (AAS).

Archives Series 61/45

Aboriginal Development Unit (ADU) workshop, c. 1987

The Aboriginal Development Unit was a Tranby initiative begun in 1985 with a brief to provide training and conduct research throughout regional NSW.

The Unit operated for ten years running courses in Land Council Management Training, Aboriginal Organisation Training, Property Management and Cross-Cultural Training. Research and development projects included Homes on Aboriginal Land, Deaths in Custody Workshops, Access Training and the Koori Youth Project.

ADU travelled the state, from Redfern to Western Sydney and from Nowra to Toomelah and Broken Hill and back.

Archives Series 61/24

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A Brief History of Tranby

Tranby's origins date back to 1952 when the Australian Board of Missions (ABM) employed the Reverend Alf Clint as Director of Co-operatives in Australia and New Guinea.

After Alf helped establish successful Indigenous co-operatives in many communities throughout the Torres Strait, NSW and QLD, he was given the ‘Tranby’ building in Glebe by Reverend John Hope of Christ Church St. Laurence for the use of the Co-operative. The Co-operative for Aborigines Ltd. was established in 1962 and since then it has become an independent, not-for-profit benevolent society.

Alf Clint passed away in 1980 and Kevin Cook became the first Indigenous General Secretary of the Co-operative which has since become a criterion for the position.

In his time with Tranby, Cook was instrumental in establishing various political lobby groups advocating for a wide range of Aboriginal issues including the Bicentennial of Australia and Black Deaths in Custody.


“He was well-known as a unionist, as an advocate of innovative, Aboriginal-controlled adult education, highly respected as a nation-wide land rights organiser, a key player in transnational links with liberation movements and a man of exceptional integrity and dynamism.”

Prof Heather Goodall, Making Change Happen


Kevin Cook remained as Director of Tranby until 1997 and is widely credited with developing the organisation into the important cultural institution it is today. Kevin Cook was followed consecutively by Jack Beetson, Oomera Edwards, Paul Knight, Lindon Coombes, Kristy Masella, Bob Morgan and Tranby's current Chief Executive Officer Dr Belinda Russon.

The co-operative principles of communal ownership and self-management and the philosophy of shared working and learning environments remain fundamental to the organisation.

Tranby has gone through a couple of name and logo changes over the years, and functioned as Tranby Aboriginal College over several decades.  In 2015, Tranby underwent a revamp to encompass and capture the essence of what we do, which is to provide quality education and training to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander adults, nationally in Australia, and so we became Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education & Training.