Aboriginal timeline: Self determination

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1925

  1. April

    Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association is formed in Sydney to oppose New South Wales Aborigines Protection Board. Its inaugural president is Fred Maynard.

1930

  1. Victorian Yorta Yorta man William Cooper petitions the King to have an Aboriginal representative in the federal House of Representatives, the main chamber of the national Australian parliament. A similar attempt is made in NSW. They are unsuccessful.

1937

  1. 27 June

    In Dubbo, western NSW, trade unionist and Aboriginal politician William Ferguson launches the Aborigines Progressive Association, in opposition to the Aborigines Protection Board, after officials of the Board had arbitrarily used their powers to harass Aboriginal people.

1958

  1. 13 February

    Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines is set up. It group brings together a number of civil rights and Aboriginal welfare organisations. Its work plays a large part in bringing about the 1967 referendum. In 1964 the title changes to Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI).

1971

  1. Aboriginal flag is designed by Luritja artist Harold Thomas and flown for the first time in Adelaide.

  2. NSW Aboriginal Legal Service is formed, followed by Aboriginal pre-school, Black Theatre and the Aboriginal Housing Company.

1973

  1. The Whitlam government introduces the first Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA), employing Aboriginal people for Aboriginal issues. The DAA begins a national programme to improve health services for Aboriginal people. It also introduces the first national body elected by Aboriginal people, the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee (NACC), which has only an advisory role, however. Aboriginal people elect the members.

1975

  1. Australia ratifies the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, guaranteeing self-determination to Aboriginal Peoples.

1990

  1. 5 March

    Bob Hawke's Labor government establishes the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989. It allows elected regional councils and a board of commissioners to make decisions on policy and funding.

  2. 16 July

    Founding of the Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG) which sees Aboriginal people as a sovereign people and campaigns for Aboriginal self-determination and self-government, rejects assimilation into the Australian state, and maintains that Aboriginal people have the right to decide the future of their lands and lives to the exclusion of colonial interference.

1992

  1. Torres Strait Islander flag designed.

1995

  1. June

    The Australian Government proclaims the Aboriginal flag as an official ‘Flag of Australia’ under section 5 of the Flags Act 1953.

2008

  1. June

    Aboriginal people in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) vote for Australia’s first elected Aboriginal representative body since ATSIC’s demise in 2005. Seven representatives will be elected every three years to advise the ACT government on policy that affects the lives of the ACT’s Aboriginal population.

2009

  1. 27 August

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma outlines the proposed model for a new national Indigenous representative body to fill the void since the demise of ATSIC in 2004. The model enables representation by Indigenous land councils, peak bodies and other Indigenous organisations, as well as a place for leaders operating at all levels. It has a 50/50 gender rule for representatives and an overseeing role of an ethics committee.

  2. 22 November

    The government announces its support of the new representative body for Aboriginal people, called the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (NCAFP).

2011

  1. 17 April

    Yindjibarndi woman Jodi Broun and Butchulla man Les Malezer become the first elected national Indigenous leaders since the abolition of ATSIC as they assume the positions of co-chairs of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

  2. 8 June

    The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples gets the first elected board, giving Aboriginal people the first elected national representative body since the abolition of ATSIC.

2012

  1. 15 September

    More than 200 people, including newly arrived asylum seekers, receive an Aboriginal passport. The Aboriginal passport was first introduced in 1988 by Palawa (Tasmanian) activist, Michael Mansell, and was issued to an Aboriginal delegation that visited Libya.

2013

  1. 30 March

    Murrawarri people from the Culgoa River region of northern New South Wales declare their sovereignty of their lands under the name of the Murrawarri Republic. Along with the boundaries of their republic they also present their own flag. The Peoples Council of the Murrawarri Republic held its first meeting at Weilmoringle on 13 July 2013.

  2. 12 August

    The Euahlayi Nation, whose traditional lands straddle the border in upper western NSW and lower southwest Queensland,  declares independence from the Commonwealth.

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2019, Aboriginal timeline: Self determination, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-aboriginal-history-timeline/selfdetermination>, retrieved 18 June 2019

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