Timeline: Indigenous rights movement

Here is an overview of the Indigenous rights movement from the beginning of the century.

Here is an overview of the Indigenous rights movement from the beginning of the century.

1901: Commonwealth of Australia formed. Indigenous Australians are excluded from the census and the lawmaking powers of the Commonwealth Parliament.

White Australia Policy. Indigenous people are excluded from the vote, pensions, employment in post offices, enlistment in Armed Forces, maternity allowance.

1938: Day of Mourning held by the Aborigines League (est 1932) and the Aborigines Progressive Association (1937). It is the first major protest by Indigenous people. The manifesto “Aborigines Claim Citizen Rights” and the newspaper “Abo Call” are published.

1949: Australian Citizenship Act gives Indigenous Australians the vote in Commonwealth elections if they are enrolled for State elections or have served in the Armed Forces.

1957: National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) formed with support from Federal and State Governments, churches and major Indigenous organisations. Its aim is to promote Aboriginal Sunday as a day to draw community attention to Indigenous people in Australia.

1958: The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines (later the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders) begins a ten year campaign to end Constitution's discrimination against Indigenous people.

1962: All Indigenous people are given the vote in Commonwealth elections.

1967: Referendum held – 90.7% of Australians vote YES to count Indigenous Australians in the census and to give the Commonwealth Government the power to make laws for them.

1970-1971: Aboriginal Legal Service and Aboriginal Medical Service set up in Redfern (grassroots activists include Mum Shirl, Fr Ted Kennedy), along with Aboriginal Housing Company.

Neville Bonner becomes the first Indigenous member of Parliament when he filled a casual Senate vacancy.

1972: Tent Embassy established outside Parliament House. It adopts the Indigenous flag.

Whitlam Government elected; White Australia policy abolished. Department of Aboriginal Affairs established. Self-determination adopted as policy for Indigenous people.

Neville Bonner is elected on the Liberal Party ticket in Queensland.

1975: Whitlam hands back title to Gurindji people.

Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) passed.

Aboriginal Day extended to National Aborigines Week.

1976: Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT)

1978: Pat O'Shane becomes the first Indigenous law graduate and barrister.

1979: Indigenous people at Noonkanbah protest against an American oil company's test drilling for oil. The WA Supreme Court grants an injunction, but tests eventually go ahead.

1983: Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (NSW) recognizes dispossession and displacement.

1985: Uluru handed back to traditional owners.

1987: Hawke sets up Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

1988: Bicentenary protest sees tens of thousands march on Australia Day.

NADOC changes its name to include Torres Strait Islanders; it is now NAIDOC

1990: ATSIC established.

1991: Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody presents report. 339 recommendations, with the final recommendation being that a formal process of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia be undertaken.

Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation established by Act of Parliament – to have a 10 year-lifespan.

1992: Mabo decision by the High Court overturns terra nullius and rules that native title exists over unalienated Crown land, national parks and reserves.

First “Survival Day” concert held at La Perouse (in 1998 the event moves to Waverley Oval near Bondi Beach).

10 Dec: Paul Keating's Redfern Park speech for the launch of the United Nations International Year for the World's Indigenous People

1993: Native Title Act.

1995: HREOC National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families announced.

Mid-1990s: NAIDOC wound up as ATSIC assumes responsibility for NAIDOC Week;.

1996: Howard Government elected.

The High Court rules in the Wik decision that native title and pastoral leases can co-exist.

Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Party campaign against what they say is “special treatment” for Aboriginal people.

Commonwealth Parliament makes statement of commitment to Reconciliation.

1997: Bringing Them Home, the report of the inquiry into the Stolen Generations, is released. It recommends a national sorry day to commemorate the history and effects of removing children from their families.

PM Howard makes a personal apology to the Stolen Generations, but refuses to make an official apology on behalf of Australia.

At the National Reconciliation Conference on 27th May, hundreds of people turn their backs on Howard during his speech, in protest at his refusal to apologise to the Stolen Generations.

“Sea of Hands” outside Parliament House in Canberra in support of reconciliation and the Wik decision.

1998: Native Title Amendment Act 1998 is passed; seen by many to reduce native title rights for Indigenous people.

First National Sorry Day – over 1 million signatures collected in Sorry Books.

John Howard & Liberals re-elected; commits to reconciliation by 2001 in his election victory speech.

2000: Corroboree 2000. Handover of Document for Reconciliation at Sydney Opera House, more than 300 000 join in the Bridge Walk.

2004: Federal Government introduces legislation to abolish ATSIC.

TJ Hickey is killed while being followed by police – the Redfern Riot erupts.

Mulrunji Doomadgee dies in police custody, sparking a riot on Palm Island.

2005: ATSIC abolished; National Indigenous Council to replace and advise. NIC is not elected, meets four times a year.

2006: Aden Ridgeway chairperson of National NAIDOC committee.

2007 - 21st June: Howard Government announces its intervention into Northern Territory Indigenous communities.

2008 - 13th February: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says 'Sorry' to the Stolen Generations.

2010 - 8th November: Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces plans to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution.

Source SBS

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