SCM's involvement in the Freedom Ride

Submitted by Ray Barraclough.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Freedom Ride led by Charles Perkins through country NSW. Financial support for the venture came from the Student Christian Movement (SCM) and several members of SCM participated in that famous freedom ride. It entailed students from Sydney University hiring a bus and visiting a number of towns in northern NSW to challenge the segregation and racism that marked the treatment of Indigenous people in that region of Australia.

Professor Ann Curthoys, a contemporary of Charles Perkins at Sydney University in the mid 1960s, and member of the freedom ride, records
the involvement of SCM in the venture. She spoke of SCM involvement in an extract from her lecture noted below.

The Freedom Ride –– Its Significance Today

A Public Lecture by Prof Ann Curthoys at the National Museum of Australia – Wednesday, 4 September, 2002.

Farewelling us that evening were Ted Noffs, who said a prayer, and the go Tell it on the Mountain singers, an African American singing group who sent us off with a rendition of We Shall Overcome. One of the students, Darce Cassidy, also worked part time at the ABC as a radio journalist, and he had his tape recorder…

We students were a mixed bunch indeed. Some were on the Left, in the Labour club or the ALP club, some were in the Christian societies like the Student Christian Movement, some had more conservative politics like Alex Mills who was from the Liberal Club, some were in Abschol, and some had no known political or religious affiliations. Four were of Jewish background. Some had wealthy parents, as Darce Cassidy did, and some were of that first generation of working class sons and daughters to get to university. The majority were from middle class backgrounds, the sons and daughters of teachers, doctors, academics, and lawyers. The only thing we really shared was a concern with Indigenous rights, and a commitment to non-violent direct action.


Read some of Ann Curthoys' reflections on the fiftieth anniversary at