Heroes in The Struggle for Justice

Important People in the Political Struggle for Aboriginal Rights

Charles Frederick (Fred) Maynard
1879 - 1946
Fred Maynard.

by Heather Goodall

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Charles Frederick (Fred) Maynard (1879-1946), Aboriginal activist, was born on 4 July 1879 at Hinton, New South Wales, third child of William Maynard, an English-born labourer, and his native-born wife Mary, née Phillips. His grandmother, Mary, was a Wonnarua woman from the Hunter River who had married Jean Phillipe (anglicized as Phillips), an emigrant from Mauritius. After their mother's death in 1884, Fred and his sisters were raised with strict discipline by a Protestant minister at Maitland. Fred read voraciously. He worked as a bullock-driver, drover and photographer, travelling as far as the Kimberley, Western Australia.

By 1914 Maynard had become a wharf labourer in Sydney and an active member of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia. He spent much time at the Domain and other public-speaking venues. In the early 1920s he united with his countrymen from the Hunter to make a public protest against the assault on Aborigines' rights; they spoke at local meetings, and lobbied the Sydney and regional press. Maynard contacted a White woman, Elizabeth McKenzie-Hatton. She was prominent in establishing (1923) a refuge at Homebush to protect Aboriginal 'apprentices' who had absconded or been branded 'incorrigible'. Bitterly opposed by the Aborigines Protection Board and kept under police surveillance, the 'Home' functioned for two years. Early in 1925 Maynard and others helped Aboriginal families at Nambucca Heads to rescue their own children from Stuart Island where they were in the board's custody.

In 1925 Maynard launched the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association. Initially, its office-bearers were all men from the mid-north coast, except for McKenzie-Hatton who was organizing secretary. The group protested against the revocation of north-coast farming reserves; they also demanded that children no longer be separated from their families, or indentured as domestics and menial labourers. The A.A.P.A. advocated that all Aboriginal families should receive inalienable grants of farming land within their traditional country, that their children should have free entry to public schools, and that Aborigines should control any administrative body affecting their lives.

Members of the association made lengthy organizing trips; meetings in coastal towns attracted numerous Aborigines. Maynard and McKenzie-Hatton wrote letters to the press and to politicians. With Jane Duren, an Aboriginal leader from Batemans Bay, Maynard participated in debates with missionaries and public figures who were proposing changes to the administration of Aboriginal affairs. He wrote to Aborigines throughout the State who had been injured by the board's policies, such as young girls who had been raped while indentured.

The Depression undermined the A.A.P.A.'s ability to continue its campaigns into the 1930s. At Darlinghurst, Sydney, on 14 June 1928 Maynard had married with Methodist forms Minnie Critchley, a 32-year-old Englishwoman and the daughter of a miner. He gradually withdrew from public life to provide for his growing family. An injury on the docks in the 1930s made it increasingly difficult for him to work. He died of diabetes mellitus on 9 September 1946 at the Mental Hospital, Rydalmere, and was buried with Presbyterian forms in Rookwood cemetery; his wife, two sons and two daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

H. Goodall, Invasion to Embassy (Syd, 1976)
S. Baldwin (ed), Unsung Heroes & Heroines of Australia (Melb, 1988).

Further Reading
Maynard JM, Fight for Liberty and Freedom : The Origins of Australian Aboriginal Activism, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 186 (2007)
Maynard JM, 'Garvey in Oz: the International Black Influence on Australian Aboriginal Political Activism', Anywhere But Here: Black Intellectuals in the Atlantic World and Beyond, University Press of Mississipi, Jackson, MS 99-116 (2015)
Maynard JM, Fred Maynard and the Awakening of Aboriginal Political Conciousness and Activism in Twentieth Century Australia., University of Newcastle (2003)
Maynard, JM Fred Maynard and Marcus Garvey: Storming the urban space