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WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following may contain images, story and voices of deceased, by and about persons. Discretion advised.

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Cheryl Buchanan

18 July 2020 // Cheryl Buchanan


Cheryl Buchanan (1955-) was born in Cunnamulla into the Kooma (Gwama) nation located in southern Queensland. 

Cheryl had been politically aware from a very young age and at 18, was part of a 9 person strong Black Power Delegation to China.

During 1974 Buchanan worked as the race relations field director for the Australian Union of Students and spent several months visiting communities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, encouraging their struggle for land rights.

In 1975 she moved to Melbourne, Victoria, where she became director of the Black Resources Centre (BRC).

The Centre later moved to Brisbane, and Cheryl became one of the principal campaigners for the acquittal of 'The Brisbane Three', two Aboriginal men and a Chilean charged with conspiracy over an alleged extortion attempt. The three were acquitted due partly to the support of BRC periodical Black Liberation from 1975 to 1977. Buchanan was one of the main contributors to this publication, writing articles on a range of issues including history, politics, education, land rights, prisons and welfare.

Cheryl studied at the University of Hawaii as a scholarship-holder. Upon her return to Australia she became involved in the Brisbane Tribal Council, and attended the University of Queensland.


She had also been the founding member of numerous Queensland Aboriginal organisations, including Aboriginal Legal, Medicare and Childcare Centre in Brisbane, Black Community School, Black Resource Centre, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Women's Legal and Advocacy Service. Additionally she was Chairperson of the Black Deaths in Custody Watch Committee.

She was the first Aboriginal woman publisher and an acclaimed playwright and author, with many published and performed works. In 1980 she published Kargun, the first of a series of poetry volumes by Lionel Fogarty. This publication led to the development of Murrie Coo-ee, an Aboriginal publishing firm at Coominya which continues to operate under Buchanan's directorship.

Her living legacy as author, editor, speaker, director, business-person, political activist, teacher, lecturer and negotiator has touched the lives of many and continues to have an impact in the lives of Aboriginal people to this day.

Recommended viewing

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