Faith Thomas AM: ahead of her time

Faith Thomas AM, the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person to play for Australia in any sport, has died at aged 90.

The Adnyamathanha woman, who was born at the Nepabunna Aboriginal Mission in 1933 to an Aboriginal mother and German father was selected to play cricket for South Australia in the 1950’s, before going on to play Test Cricket for Australia against England at Melbourne’s Junction Oval in 1958 as a fast bowler.

Aunty Faith remains one of just four Indigenous Australians to have played in Test for Australia, alongside Jason Gillespie, Ash Gardner and Scott Boland.

A survivor of the Stolen Generations policy, Aunty Faith was raised at Colebrook Home in the Finders Rangers alongside friend Lowitja O’Donoghue, and both women were among the first group of Aboriginal nurses to graduate from the Royal Adelaide Hospital in the 1950’s.

In 2019, she was awarded the Order of Australia for her services to cricket and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The Adelaide Strikers also honour her by playing for the Faith Thomas Trophy each year.

Aboriginal Way did an interview about the life of Faith Thomas AM a couple of years ago with Tyson Baird, who bonded with her over a shared love of cricket whilst working as an Occupational Therapist in her hometown of Port Augusta. He then went on to co-produce the 2021 NITV documentary about her life called “Before Her Time”, which is available to watch on SBS on Demand, available to watch here – ⁠Before Her Time | SBS On Demand⁠

Please enjoy this repeat episode of Aboriginal Way, and note that Thomas’s family have granted permission to use her name and images.

Images courtesy of Ninti Media