Dancing With The Prime Minister


On an unseasonably warm evening in 1968 Australian Prime Minister John Gorton, wearing evening dress, walked slowly along a line of 25 young Aboriginal women, dressed in white satin sporting beehive hairdos, standing silently in the Sydney Town Hall.

Gorton was in Sydney for the first ever national Aboriginal debutante ball, organised by Aboriginal people and held to celebrate the previous year’s landslide referendum when 90.77% of Australians voted ‘‘Yes” to Aboriginal rights.

The ball became a symbolic coming of age of Aboriginal Australia and the fact that the Prime Minister of Australia attended this national ball was seen as a recognition of a new era of race relations.

One thousand people crowded Sydney's Town Hall in 1968 to watch one of the greatest events that Aboriginal people had in Sydney at that time.

Organisers hoped the ball would bring back dignity and be able to allow the people to meet in a very nice atmosphere and a good environment.

Writer Dr Anna Cole, from Queensland's Griffith University, became interested in debutante balls when she was doing her PhD research. She called the film 'Dancing With the Prime Minister' because at the time an Aboriginal woman in the arms of John Gorton was big news.


Lorena Allam - Narrator
Release dates
2006 - Australia
November Films
Amanda Brown

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Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, Dancing With The Prime Minister, <>, retrieved 8 July 2020

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