Aboriginal timeline: Politics

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1939

  1. As a result of the 1937 conference Queensland passes legislation allowing Aboriginal people to receive workers’ compensation, and the Northern Territory government sets up a Native Affairs Branch.

1940

  1. Amendments to the NSW Aborigines protection legislation results in the replacement of the Aborigines Protection Board with the NSW Aborigines Welfare Board. Responsibility for Aboriginal education is transferred to the Department for Education, which takes control of reserve buildings and starts to provide trained teachers. ‘Aboriginal’ schools provide education beyond Grade 3.

  2. In the 1940s most federal social security benefits are extended to Aboriginal people.

  3. White Australia policy succeeds: 99% of Australia’s 7 million people are white.

1941

  1. The Child Endowment Act is passed but declares no endowment should be paid to dependent Aboriginal people.

1943

  1. A further amendment to the Aboriginal protection legislation in NSW gives two Aboriginal people - one ‘full-blood’ and one ‘half-caste’ - representation on the Aboriginal Welfare Board. Walter Page and William Ferguson, both Aboriginal Progressive Association members, take up the positions.

  2. An Exemption Certificate is introduced, exempting certain Aboriginal people from restrictive legislation and entitling them to vote, drink alcohol and move freely but prohibiting them from consorting with others who are not exempt. Their children are allowed to be admitted to ordinary public schools.

    Aboriginal people use the derogatory terms ‘dog tags’ or ‘dog licences’ to refer to the certificates. For many Aboriginal people this renunciation of their traditional lifestyle is promoted as the only opportunity to overcome poverty, gain work and access to education and social welfare benefits.

1948

  1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is adopted by the newly-formed United Nations and supported by Australia.

  2. The Commonwealth Citizenship and Nationality Act 1948 for the first time makes all Australians, including all Aboriginal people, Australian citizens. But at state level they still suffer legal discrimination.

1949

  1. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is ratified by Australia. It comes into force in 1951.

  2. Aboriginal people are given the right to enrol and vote at federal elections provided they are entitled to enrol for state elections or have served in the armed forces.

1951

  1. The federal government convenes the Australian Conference for Native Welfare, with all states and territories represented except Victoria and Tasmania, which claim to have no Aboriginal ‘problem’. The conference officially adopts a policy of ‘assimilation’ for Aboriginal people.

    "Assimilation means, in practical terms, that it is expected that all persons of Aboriginal birth or mixed blood in Australia will live like white Australians do.[1]

1953

  1. The Northern Territory Welfare Ordinance makes Aboriginal people wards of the government, basically making Aboriginal adults and children, minors.

1954

  1. Queen Elizabeth visits Australia for the first time and in Canberra signs the Aborigines Welfare Ordinance 1954 that permits the ethnic cleansing of the Australian Capital Territory, clearing it of resident Aboriginal people.

1957

  1. Victorian Aborigines Welfare Board replaces the Board for the Protection of Aborigines. The Welfare Board is abolished in 1967.

  2. In the Northern Territory the powers of the Chief Protector over Aboriginal children are repealed.

1960

  1. Aboriginal people become eligible for social service benefits.

1962

  1. Aboriginal right to vote: Federal elections 2007
    Aboriginal right to vote. A lot of Aboriginal people exercised their right to vote in the 2007 federal elections which kicked the Howard government out of parliament.

    The Commonwealth Electoral Act is amended to give Aboriginal people in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory the right to vote in federal elections. Aboriginal people are not made to register, but once they have, voting is compulsory for them, as it is for every Australian. Compulsory enrolment is not required until 1984.

  2. The Aboriginal Affairs Act in South Australia reconstitutes the Aborigines Protection Board and South Australian Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The Act also limits mining on reserves by non-Indigenous people.

1964

  1. The Northern Territory Social Welfare Ordinance replaces the Welfare Ordinance, supposedly putting Aboriginal people on the same level as other Australians. But the Ward’s Employment Ordinance remains in force, leaving Aboriginal people on Christian missions and government settlements, about two-thirds of the Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, unequal in employment, wages, vocational training and housing.

References

View article sources (0)

[9711] 'Timeline of legislation affecting Aboriginal people', DECS Curriculum Services, www.aboriginaleducation.sa.edu.au

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2020, Aboriginal timeline: Politics, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-aboriginal-history-timeline/politics?page=2>, retrieved 25 October 2020

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