Faith Bandler AC (1920-2015), civil rights activist and writer, was born in Tumbulgum, NSW, to a Scottish-Indian mother and a cane-worker father from what is now Vanuatu. Settling in Sydney after the war, she began to work full time on Indigenous issues, founding the Australian Aboriginal Fellowship in 1956 and becoming a founding member of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in 1957. Within FCAATSI she directed the campaign toward the constitutional referendum of 1967, in which more than 90% of voters moved to remove provisions from the Constitution that were perceived as racist. Between 1962 and 1973 she was NSW State Secretary, and then General Secretary, of FCAATSI. In 1974, while researching a book about her father, she founded the National Commission for Australian South Sea Islanders. She declined an MBE in 1976, gained an honorary doctorate in 1994 and was named a Living National Treasure in 1997.
Melbourne-based sculptor Julie Edgar approached Faith Bandler, whom she deeply admired, several times about sitting for this work before Bandler agreed. Edgar works extensively on commission. Her busts are created in many stages, involving the building up of a clay sculpture over a steel, wood or plastic armature; the formation of wax and rubber moulds; bronze casting; and then much grinding, rubbing back and detailing through patination.