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1899

  1. Cyclone Mahina passes over Bathurst Bay, Cape York, far north Queensland, destroys more than 70 pearl luggers and kills 12 white men and more than 300 Torres Strait Islander people who were working on them. The novel The Devil’s Eye by Ian Townsend details the devastation which was “greater than Hurricane Katrina”. The storm remains the biggest natural disaster in Australian history.

1900

  1. Conflict

    Part-Aboriginal man Jimmy Governor goes on a rampage killing 10 people. He was captured and hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol, NSW, on 18 January 1901.

1901

  1. Aboriginal people are excluded from the vote, pensions, employment in post offices, enlistment in armed forces and maternity allowance.

  2. Politics

    Federation - The Commonwealth Constitution states "in reckoning the numbers of people… Aboriginal natives shall not be counted". It also states that the Commonwealth would legislate for any race except Aboriginal people. This leaves the power over Aboriginal Affairs with the states.

  3. Politics

    The government introduces the white Australia policy, trying to ban all non-Caucasian people from entering the country.

1902

  1. During the Boer War about 50 Aboriginal trackers are summonsed by the British forces in South Africa to join the war to locate Boer fighters. When Australian forces withdraw later that year, the trackers are thought to have been left behind.

  2. The Commonwealth Parliament passes the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 which grants men and women in all states the right to vote in federal elections, but denies it to every ‘aboriginal native’ of Australia, Asia, Africa, or the Islands of the Pacific (if they not already had the right to vote in state elections at the time of the Act).

1903

  1. Tasmanian Aboriginal woman Fanny Cochrane Smith is recorded singing in her native tongue, the first and only recording of Tasmania’s Aboriginal language.

1904

  1. The Queensland government establishes Cherbourg, an Aboriginal community, about 30 km from Gympie.

  2. The Queensland Government takes control of the Torres Strait Islands from the London Missionary Society. Torres Strait Islanders become subject to the Queensland Aboriginal Protection Act and wards of State.

1905

  1. Politics

    Walter Roth, Chief Protector of Aborigines in Queensland, who had been appointed to work for the Royal Commission on the Condition of the Natives, releases his report. Although mild in his criticism, the report stirred a vast response in the press with many articles reporting about the "slavery" in Western Australia. Roth's findings led to the passing of the Aborigines Act 1905 in December that year.

    The full report is available on the website of the Western Australian Parliament.

  2. The Western Australian government passes the Aborigines Act 1905 which commences in April 1906. It is designed to better protect and care of the Aboriginal people of Western Australia but in reality ruled over all aspects of Aboriginal lives for nearly 60 years. The Act created the position of Chief Protector of Aborigines who became the legal guardian of every Aboriginal child to the age of 16 years, and permitted authorities to remove Aboriginal children from their families. It establishes reserves and sets the rules governing Aboriginal employment.

1908

  1. The United Aborigines Mission establishes the Bomaderry Aboriginal Children's Home in Nowra, NSW, after several orphaned children come into the care of the mission. The home is often referred to as the 'birthplace' of the Stolen Generations in New South Wales. Up to 47 children live at the home. It closes in 1988.

  2. George Green plays 16 games for the Easts (until 1911) and 92 games for the Norths (1912–16, 1918–22). It was never clear whether his heritage was Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, or South Sea Islander, but he is recognised as the first Indigenous player in rugby league. He was a hooker.

  3. The Invalid and Old Age Pensioner Act provides social security for some but not for Aboriginal people.

1909

  1. The NSW Aborigines Protection Act is introduced following crises in public schools. The Act also made it illegal for ‘half-castes’ to live on reserves. In 1915 and 1918 amendments to the Act give the NSW Aborigines Protection Board greater powers to remove children from their families for training as domestic servants.

  2. Aboriginal schools are established in NSW. Exclusion of Aboriginal children from public schools followed requests by the white community. In NSW there are 22 Aboriginal schools in 1910, 35 in 1920 and 40 in 1940. The syllabus stresses manual activities and the teacher is usually the reserve manager’s untrained wife.

  3. First Aboriginal person to play First Grade Rugby League was George Green playing for Eastern Suburbs.

1910

  1. An inquiry is held into the Forest River Massacre in the Kimberley.

  2. The Aborigines Protection Board Act is passed, giving the Board ‘legal’ control over Aboriginal people on stations and reserves but not missions, in the Northern Territory.

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2021, Timeline results for , <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/timeline/searchResults?page=7>, retrieved 24 April 2021

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