Fight for Survival: The grassroots story behind the Northlands exhibition

MV Lecture Series event

Story holders of the Northlands Secondary College 'Fight For Survival' – including Gary Foley, Moira Rayner and a special community panel – talk about the grassroots campaign to save this school and its uniquely successful educational model.

Northland Secondary College provided extraordinary education in a mainstream school with a difference. It was a place to belong. A place where people of all cultures over many years, from all walks of life contributed to an environment where Aboriginal education & other curriculum areas was able to bloom and grow across the whole school community.

The Fight for Survival exhibition presents photographs, videos, artworks from former students and unique material from the Aboriginal History Archive (VU) and reflects on why Northland Secondary College meant so much to so many people.


Speaker - Gary Foley

Gary Foley (b. 1950) is a Gumbainggir activist, actor, historian, curator and academic. Gary has played pivotal roles in many of the most provocative and effective Aboriginal protests and organisations of the last 50 years including the Aboriginal Embassy, the Brisbane Commonwealth Games, the 1988 Bicentenary, and the Aboriginal Health Services of Redfern and Victoria. He has written and starred in numerous stage productions and films and was the first director of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council. Gary was a consultant to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and was the Senior Curator for South Eastern Australia at Museum Victoria from 2001 to 2005. He campaigned successfully against the closure of Northland Secondary College in 1992–1995. Gary is a Professor in History at Victoria University where he established the Aboriginal History Archive. 


Speaker - Moira Rayner

Moira Rayner was Victoria’s Commissioner for Equal Opportunity and the federal Human Rights Commission’s delegate under the Race Discrimination Act when the Kennett government targeted the Northlands Secondary College for closure. When two Aboriginal students challenged the decision in a race discrimination complaint, she accepted it, and declined to dismiss it, when the government refused to accept her invitation to conciliate. A senior practising lawyer and a lifelong anti-discrimination and human rights expert, Moira’s career survived Kennett’s scandalous abolition of her role. She received a Centenary Medal for outstanding services to the rights of children in 2000.


Having this panel discussion run in the daytime offers our theatre attendees the opportunity to view the 'Fight for Survival' exhibition currently showing in Bunjilaka, either before our after our event.  The MV Lecture Series team looks forward to welcoming you on the day.


Museums Victoria acknowledges the Woi Wurrung (Wurundjeri) and Boonwurrung peoples of the eastern Kulin Nations where we work, and First Peoples language groups and communities across Victoria and Australia.

Our organisation, in partnership with the First Peoples of Victoria, is working to place First Peoples living cultures and histories at the core of our practice.



June 11, 2022 at 2:00pm - 3:15pm
Melbourne Museum Theatre and online
11 Nicholson St
Carlton, VIC 3053
Google map and directions
Caz McLennan
$12.00 AUD · Purchase tickets

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