Indigenous Civil Rights

By lucas.p
  • Indigenous Australians Acquire Right to Vote

    In 1962, Indigenous Australians were granted the right to vote under the Commonwealth Election Act, which stated that everybody born in Australia was a British subject by birth, including Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Consequently, all Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders were deemed eligible to vote by birth. This event furthered Aboriginal interests by granting Aborigines a means by which they could assert their voice to national legislature.
  • Indigenous Freedom Rides

    A group of University of Sydney students, led by Indigenous student Charles Perkins, organised a bus tour of rural NSW. They had the goal of highlighting the bleak conditions in which Indigenes around NSW lived. They established an organisation named Student Action for Aborigines (SAFA), and broadcasted their journey across Australia. Students in the city were appalled by the conditions Aborigines lived in outside the city, and the tour raised awareness and controversy around the country.
  • Wave Hill Walk-Off

    In 1966, 200 stockmen and servants of the Gurindji nation began a 9-year long strike. It was not only a strike against working and living conditions, but a protest for the return of traditional lands. After brokering an agreement with the owners of the land, the British Vestey Group, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam handed back a portion of the land to the Gurindji people. The event was part of a movement which led to the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in the Northern Territory.
  • Aboriginal Tent Embassy

    In January 1972, four Aboriginal men planted a beach umbrella on the lawn outside Parliament House, which they entitled the Aboriginal Embassy. This came as a response to the Australian government's refusal to recognise Aboriginal land rights or the native title. The umbrella was soon replaced by a number of tents, and the activists put forth a list of demands to the Australian parliament. The tent embassy remains standing and a symbol of Aboriginal solidarity to this day.
  • Australian Bicentennial

    On the occasion of Australia's Bicentennary, the Barunga community presented to Prime Minister Bob Hawke a list of rights which they demanded be recognised. These included the right to self determination, and the right to the permanent control and enjoyment of their ancestral lands. Prime Minister Hawke responds, promising a treaty by 1990, but nothing significant comes of it. Later, in 1991, Indigenous group Yothu Yindi releases a song entitled 'Treaty', which attracts international attention.
  • Mabo Decision

    The High Court of Australia handed down the Mabo Decision, which overturned the longstanding doctrine of terra nullius, and which established that Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders held a right to Australian land before the British arrived, and still do to this day. The initiative was fronted by Eddie Mabo, a Torres Strait Islander who campaigned for the legal recognition of his people's ownership over the Murray Islands.