In 1957, Ella Simon of Purfleet mission near Taree, New South Wales, applied for and was granted a certificate of exemption.
Exemption gave her legal freedoms denied to other Aboriginal people at that time: she could travel freely, open a bank account, and live and work where she wanted. In the eyes of the law she became a non-Aboriginal, but in return she could not associate with other Aboriginal people, even her own family or community.
These personal and often painful histories, uncovered in archives, family stories and lived experiences, reveal new perspectives on exemption.
Black, White and Exempt describes the resourcefulness of Aboriginal people who sought exemption to obtain freedom from hardship and oppressive regulation of their lives. It celebrates their resilience and how they used their exempt status to increase opportunities for their families and advance Aboriginal rights including the abolition of the exemption system.
Contributions by Lucinda Aberdeen, Katherine Ellinghaus, Ashlen Francisco, Jessica Horton, Karen Hughes, Jennifer Jones, Beth Marsden, John Maynard, Kella Robinson, Leonie Stevens and Judi Wickes.
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