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Sharing Indigenous culture

Our nation is home to the oldest continuous living culture in the world.

That is something we can all take pride in as a nation.

 

Upper body of Indigenous Australian man
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There is an Australia that we all know and love. But too often the story of our nation does not look at our history with honesty.

Learning more about Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is important for moving forward and for all Australians to share in our national identity. It means understanding the past and looking to the future.

Building a nation for us all

  • 45,000 years ago | Longest living culture

    Rock engravings in South Australia suggest evidence of land inhabitancy making Aboriginal Australians the longest living culture in the world

  • 1869-1897 | Protection

    'Protection' laws in Victoria, NSW and Queensland oversee the lives of Aboriginal people.

  • 1901 | Not counted

    Australia becomes a 'Federation' under the Australian Constitution. Under the Constitution, Aboriginal people will not be counted in the census and the Australian Government can make laws about people of any race except Aboriginal people. This means that state laws continue to apply to Aboriginal people.

  • 1905-1915 | Laws removing children and moving people

    Laws in Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory enable the forced removal of children and moving Indigenous people to and from reserves.

  • 1937 | Assimilation is the goal

    Assimilation is adopted as the national policy: the destiny of the natives of aboriginal origin, but not of the full blood, lies in ultimate absorption … with a view to their taking their place in the white community on an equal footing with the whites.

    In 1951, the third government conference on 'native welfare' confirmed assimilation as the aim of 'native welfare' measures.

  • 1940 | NSW begins to undo damage

    The NSW Aborigines Protection Board loses its power to remove Indigenous children. The Board is renamed the Aborigines Welfare Board and is finally abolished in 1969.

  • 1967 | Vote yes for Aborigines

    A national referendum is held to amend the Constitution. Over 90% of voters say yes. Legally this means that Australians give power to the Australian Government to make laws for Aboriginal people and Aborigines are included in the census for the first time.

    But the 1967 referendum is more than legal changes; it is about all Australians coming together to recognise past wrongs and to move forward together.

    Read more about this

  • 1969 | No more removal for 'protection'

    All states repeal legislation allowing for the removal of Aboriginal children under the policy of 'protection'. In the following years, Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Agencies are set up to challenge removal applications and provide alternatives to the removal of Indigenous children from their families.

  • 1972 | Tent Embassy

    The Aboriginal Tent Embassy is pitched outside Parliament House in Canberra to demonstrate for land rights.

  • 1975 | Race discrimination is illegal

    The Australian Government passes the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

  • 1976 | Land rights begins

    The Australian Government passes the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. This law provides for recognition of Aboriginal land ownership, granting land rights to 11,000 Aboriginal people and enabling other Aboriginal people to lodge a claim for recognition of traditional ownership of their lands.

  • 1980 | Link-Up

    The Link-Up (NSW) Aboriginal Corporation is established. Link-Up provides family tracing, reunion and support for forcibly removed children and their families.

    It is followed by Link-Up (Brisbane) in 1984, Link-Up (Darwin) in 1989, Link-Up (Tas) in 1991, Link-Up (Vic) in 1992, Link-Up (SA) in 1999, Link-Up (Alice Springs) in 2000, and Link-Up (WA) in 2001.

    Read more about Link-Up

  • 1992 | The terra nullius lie

    The High Court of Australia makes its landmark Mabo v Queensland decision that Australia was never terra nullius, or empty land and that native title exists over some land.

  • 1993 | Native Title

    The High Court of Australia makes its landmark Mabo v Queensland decision that Australia was never terra nullius, or empty land and that native title exists over some land.

    Read more about Native Title

  • 1997 | Sorry

    The parliaments and governments of Victoria, Tasmania, ACT, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia all issue statements recognising and publicly apologising to the Stolen Generations.

  • 2000 | People's walk for reconciliation

    Hundreds of thousands of Australians walk for Reconciliation on 28 May in state and territory capital cities.

  • 2004 | Reconciliation

    The Australian Government establishes a memorial to the Stolen Generations at Reconciliation Place in Canberra.

  • 2008 | The Apology

    On 13 February 2008 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, on behalf of the Australian Parliament, makes a historic national Apology to the Stolen Generations. The Apology acknowledges the past mistreatment of Indigenous peoples and recognises the grief, suffering and loss inflicted on the Stolen Generations.

    Watch more

  • 2009 | International declaration

    The Australian Government formally endorses the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration specifically recognises that even though everyone is equally entitled to human rights, Indigenous people have not always enjoyed those rights.

    Read more about the Declaration

  • 2010-Now | Recognising Indigenous Australians

    The Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is established. The Panel’s job is to hear from Australians about the best way to recognise indigenous people in our Constitution.

    Do you have ideas?

You can learn more about the best way that our most important legal document can be a source of pride and recongnise our rich Indigenous culture. Click here to learn more.

82% of Australians want to recognise Indigenous peoples in the Australian Constitution.

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