The Legacy of William Cooper

What is that? Well, as you may know, Uncle William Cooper (1860- 1941) was an Indigenous activist and leader of his community, who also saw the injustices of the world around him, at a time when his own people were struggling for acceptance and their place in Australian society. When he heard of Kristallnacht in far off Europe, he organised for a delegation of Indigenous men and women to march to the German consulate in Melbourne, and presented them with a letter condemning the Jewish persecution. The Germans refused to accept the letter, but simply presenting it made Cooper a hero, especially in the eyes of the Jewish community.

In 2017, 88-year-old Alfred Turner, known as Uncle Boydie, who is an Indigenous leader and hero in his own right, travelled to Berlin, where the German Government of today finally accepted the letter of his grandfather and thanked him for it. On the way, he stopped in London, and visited Ypres in Belgium, where his uncle (William Cooper's son Daniel) fought and died for the Australian Imperial Forces in World War I. As a result, Uncle Boydie, as a representative of  his grandfather and of Indigenous Yorta Yorta soldiers who fought in World War I, also visited Israel, and laid a wreath at the official centennial commemoration of the Light Horse Charge in Beersheba on October 31.

In the latter part of his life, William Cooper became an Indigenous activist and hero. But his story is not so well known in Australia, though it has all the makings of a Hollywood movie. It is now time for the Australian people to be educated about this important figure in Australian history, and a story that still has ramifications today. William Cooper's brave stance in the face of evil is a legacy that reverberates amongst descendants of the Indigenous people that Cooper was so passionate about, amongst the Jewish community, and in fact amongst all upstanding people of Australia and the world.

At an invitation-only event in early August 2017in Melbourne, Rabbi James Kennard, the Oxford educated Principal of Mt Scopus College, spoke about Uncle Boydie, reconciliation and the legacy of William Cooper, and what that means to his students and to all of us. He spoke about Uncle Boydie's mission and why supporting this project is such a vital endeavour. 


Uncle Boydie and Abe Schwarz meeting Prince William

The international journey of Uncle Boydie is now complete, but the work of the promotion of the legacy of William Cooper continues. It is now the goal and work of this project, and of Uncle Boydie, to educate more people about the history and values of William Cooper and his extraordinary contribution to Australian history and culture. But we cannot do this alone.

Donations are still required to ensure that the entire project  and journey can be documented and published, and for the public to be educated about the legacy of this important figure in Australian and Jewish history. All funds collected will be put towards this project.

The 'Australian Council of Christians and Jews' has proudly offered to support this fundraising initiative facilitating donations to the William Cooper's Legacy project. The ACCJ has Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status. 

BSB: 013345

ACC NUMBER: 353392038 

Please contact us once a donation has been made so we can track your donation.

For other ways to donate, print the Donation Form below and return it with your donation.

Hoodies and t-shirts available

Hoodies and t-shirts are now available. To make an order, simply complete the form below and email it to

Your order will then be processed and the garments will be sent out to you.

Or can pick them up if you are in Melbourne.


For further information about the project or any of the events taking place, fill in the contact form below, or email Abe Schwarz, Convenor of the project, at

PO Box 30, Balaclava VIC 3183

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Uncle Boydie, grandson of William Cooper, in front of the mural of his grandfather in Shepparton