Aboriginal Land Rights Movements Timeline

Timeline created by jiaxi_
In History
  • Terra Nullius

    Terra Nullius
    The term 'Terra Nullius' means 'Land that belongs to no-one'. It describes territory that nobody owns; therefore, the first nation to discover it is entitled to take over the land. When the British arrived in Australia, they refused to see that the land was already occupied by the Indigenous people. The High Court's Mabo judgment in 1992 overturned the terra nullius fiction. Terra Nullius was important for the Aboriginal people, as that was the day their land was taken from them.
  • Day of Mourning

    Day of Mourning
    The Day of Mourning was a protest held by the Indigenous people on the 150th anniversary of the British colonisation of Australia. The Day of Mourning was organised by the Aborigines League and the Aborigines Progressive Association and was the first major protest by the Aboriginal people. The protesters' intention was to raise awareness of their harsh circumstances, dismantle Protection Boards, and extend full citizenship rights to Indigenous Australians.
  • The Yirrkala bark petition

    The Yirrkala bark petition
    On 13th March, 1963, the Government removed more than 300 square kilometers of land from the Arnhem Land. The Yolngu people in eastern Arnhem Land wanted their protests to be heard and sent two bark petitions to the Commonwealth Parliament that was signed by 17 Aboriginal leaders and was framed in painted bark. The Australian Government’s response was to establish a Committee to consider the grievances of the Yolgnu people, which in the end did nothing to aid their cause.
  • Gove Land Rights Case

    Gove Land Rights Case
    After four years of trying to stop bauxite mining on the Gove Peninsula, the Yolgnu people took the Federal Government and the Nabalco Mining Company to the Northern Territory Supreme Court. The Yolgnu people claimed that the mine was illegal, as it was on their land and they had not consented beforehand. Justice Blackburn rejected their claim, saying that their laws had no legal significance and that the Australian Government was not bound by it.
  • The 1972 Aboriginal Tent Embassy

    The 1972 Aboriginal Tent Embassy
    On Australia day 1972, four Aboriginal men erected a beach umbrella on the lawns outside Parliament House in Canberra, along with a sign that read 'Aboriginal Embassy'. Over the months, the supporters of the embassy grew to 2000. When police violently dismantled the tents and television film crews captured the violence that took place. The public who watched the news that evening expressed their outrage and disgust to the federal government. The Tent Embassy showed their sense of alienation.
  • The Hand Back

    The Hand Back
    When the Whitlam government came into power in 1972, they brought new hope for the Gurindji people. Whitlam came to Daguragu and poured a handful of sand into Aboriginal Rights activist, Vincent Lingiari's hand and said: "Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof in Australian law that these lands belong to the Gurindji people, and I put into your hands part of the earth as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever."
  • Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act

    Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act
    The Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1976 was the first attempt by an Australian Government to legally recognise the Aboriginal system of ownership of the land. For almost 200 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had been losing rights to their lands when the British began settlement. This Act was the first step to enable Indigenous Australians to regain those rights.
  • The Handover of Uluru

    The Handover of Uluru
    The handover of Uluru in 1985 was a symbolic highpoint for Aboriginal land rights. On this day, hundreds of people- both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people- attended the ceremony and watched as Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen handed over the title deeds to Anangu traditional owners.
  • The Native Title Act 1993

    The Native Title Act 1993
    The Native Title Act 1993 is a law that was passed by the Keating Government. The purpose of this act was "to provide a national system for the recognition and protection of native title and for its co-existence with the national land management system." This law was put into action after the Mabo case which was a significant legal case in Australia that recognised the land rights of the Meriam people who are the traditional owners of the Murray Islands.
  • Bringing Them Home Report

    Bringing Them Home Report
    The Bringing them Home report was a tribute and acknowledgement to the thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that were affected by the Stolen Generations. Many Indigenous people were forcibly removed from their families as children and the National Inquiry provided them with a chance to tell their stories and have their pain publically acknowledged. Many people spoke of the significance of having their stories heard by others.