Over forty years, FoE has developed and held firm to some core philosophies and approaches, to the endearment of many and the frustration of a few. These have provided the foundations for FoE's grass roots community based activism and continue to guide our work today.
FoE Australia was founded in 1974 at a meeting on French Island in Westernport Bay, Victoria, which was then the site for a proposed nuclear reactor.
From its creation, FoE in Australia has identified itself as a radical ecology group that recognised the need to move to sustainable and equitable social systems to be able to protect the environment in the long term. This meant that from its beginnings, FoE has placed considerable effort on achieving this change rather than simply lobbying existing governments.
The first Friends of the Earth (FoE) group in Australia was formed in Adelaide in 1972, one of a number of organisations that grew out of a group called Social Action. In early 1973, FoE was established in Melbourne. These early organisations, based in the broad social movements that were forming across Australia and around the world, were products of their times. FoE was established in the early stages of the social transformation happening across Australia that had been influenced by similar movements elsewhere in the 1970's.
There was a growing public awareness of ecology, the land rights movement was becoming increasingly militant, and the NSW Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) under the leadership of Jack Mundey was profoundly changing roles of trade unions as it took a leading position on a range of social and environmental concerns. The alternative lifestyle counter culture had held a number of enormous gatherings and the women's and gay liberation movements were prominent and dynamic. Against this social backdrop, FoE, based on the concept of radical grassroots environmental action, took off like wildfire. For many, the new network structure of FoE was important because it offered an alternative to the often hierarchical structures of many other 'establishment' styled national environment groups.
Over the last 40 years, FoE has evolved into a diverse and vibrant network of groups that are working at the local, regional, national and international level.
- FoE Australia history blog
- FoE Australia - a short history from the early 1970s to 2014 (PDF or online) (from Chain Reaction #123, April 2015)
- FoE Australia, 2004, '30 Years of Creative Resistance' (PDF)
- Peter Hayes account of the early years of FoE Australia and in particular FoE Melbourne: 'Founding Friends of the Earth Australia: the Early Years'
- A timeline of FoE Australia's significant campaign and organisational events and milestones.
- FoE International, 2001, 30th anniversary publication: Sparks of hope, fires of resistance (PDF)
- FoE International at 40 - 40th anniversary publication (PDF)
- FoE International at 40 - 40 Years of Struggles and Successes (PDF)