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Doug Nicholls Doug Nicholls i(A64393 works by) (birth name: Douglas Ralph Nicholls) (a.k.a. Pastor Douglas Nicholls)
Born: Established: 9 Dec 1906 ; Died: Ceased: 1988
Gender: Male
Heritage: Aboriginal ; Aboriginal Yorta Yorta / Yota Yota
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Doug Nicholls was born and spent his childhood years at Cumeroogunga. When he was fourteen, he became an unskilled labourer doing odd jobs hoping for a sixpence. Eventually he was spotted by Harold "Steve" Betson. Steve employed Nicholls for the next four years. When work became scarce he returned back to Cumeroogunga.

In 1925, Nicholls was invited to play for the local football team. His football coach, Leo Stockdale, was also his work boss. Nicholls worked for him as a trimmer for the Victorian Water Commission, putting finishing edges on river banks. He then moved on to work as a lorry driver, all the while still playing his football. Then in 1927, he hitched a ride to Melbourne, where he didn't know anyone. He found himself a job cleaning stalls at the Melbourne Markets, and for the next several nights this was also where he slept.

Nicholls sought out the Carlton Football Club and began training with them after he finished working at the markets. He was disappointed when he was not picked during the team selection. It did not stop him from trying out with Northcote, who let him play in the juniors before eventually letting him into the seniors team. The Alan Proposch Cup - best and fairest voted by the umpires - was awarded to Nicholls in 1929 and 1930.

To help support himself financially, he took up sprinting at several events where the winners were awarded monetary prizes. In 1931, Nicholls met Jimmy Sharman, who invited him to box with his troupe. He signed a three year sporting contract to work for Sharman. While Nicholls was boxing many football clubs asked Sharman to release him from his contract. After seven months, Nicholls was released from his contract so that he could play for Fitzroy Football Club, which he did from 1932 to 1936.

After his mother died, Nicholls became a Christian. He started studying to be a pastor. Soon he was speaking in churches and youth groups, and even organised Church Football Parades at the Fitzroy Football Club.

Nicholls became involved with the Australian Aborigines' League (AAL) in the 1930s. He helped get support for the petition they tried to send to the King and he participated in the Day of Mourning in 1937. In 1941, he enlisted in the army, but he was released by request of the Fitzroy police. There was even a petition put together by the Indigenous community at Fitzroy requesting his release so that he could lead them. By 1942, he was married and had formed an Indigenous chapel. He looked after Indigenous people in need, especially women and children. His dedication to the community enabled the first Aboriginal Girls' Hostel to be opened in 1958, under the control of the AAL.

The year 1957 was a big year for Nicholls. He became a full time field officer for the AAL, a member on the Aborigines Welfare Board of Victoria, and was the first Indigenous Australian to be a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Then in 1962, he was awarded Victoria's 'Father of the Year' by the Father's Day Council of Australia, and he was also made a Justice of the Peace. The following year he was a part of the first delegation of Indigenous Australians to meet with the Prime Minister. The delegation was asking for a referendum to change sections of the Constitution that discriminated against Indigenous Australians. In 1972, Nicholls was the first Indigenous Australian knighted by the Queen. In 1976, he was appointed Governor of South Australia.

Nicholls suffered a stroke in 1977 and was in and out of hospitals until his death in 1988.

Most Referenced Works


  • See also the entry for Sir Douglas Nicholls on the Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll:

Personal Awards

Last amended 7 Jan 2014 13:17:39
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