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Aboriginal Activism Essay

890 words - 4 pages

Indigenous people have lived in Australia for about 50,000 years. The population at the time of European settlement in the late 18th century was approximately 300,000. Today that population has dropped to around 386,000 representing 2.1% of the total population.Upon arrival of the First Fleet, the aboriginal people were dispossessed of their land, decimated by violent conflict, introduced to disease and forced from their tribal lands. From the time of settlement up until early this century, large numbers of aboriginal men, women and children were killed in random killings and massacres.The years 1938 to 1972 saw numerous changes within the Australian society which led to a softening of many government policies. This period marked the beginning of many aboriginal protests against inequality, injustice, dispossession of land and protective policies.On Australia Day, 1938, an official day of Mourning and protest was held in Sydney during an Aboriginal conference to which only aboriginal people were invited. The protest was organised by two community leaders, William Cooper of the Aborigines Advancement League and Jack Patten from the Aborigines Progressive Association, to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the 1788 invasion of the British. It was the first major political rally by aboriginal people as a protest over discrimination against aboriginal people. The protest mourned the loss of life of its people who died defending their traditional lands and demanded that the government recognised the rights of aboriginal people as the original inhabitants of this country and was a major step towards redressing the wrongs of history against Aboriginal people.To many people, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, the day will never be seen as a national day of celebration. The landing at Sydney Cove marks the beginning of bitter wars, unnecessary and brutal deaths, and the continuing struggle for survival by Aboriginal people.Aboriginal activism was again highlighted by the 1965 Freedom Rides. In February 1965 a group of about thirty Sydney University students, including two aboriginals, undertook a 3,200 kilometre bus trip of Northern New South Wales to bring to people?s attention the discrimination against aboriginals. It was led by aboriginal activists Charles Perkins and Jim Spigelman, with the help of Ted Noffs and Bill Ford. They called themselves ?Freedom Riders?. Their aim was to draw attention to racism in rural areas such as the exclusion of Indigenous people from public swimming pools. On of the areas targeted was Moree. In this town the council had laws preventing aboriginals form entering the council chambers or use their toilets. Also many hotels would not serve aboriginals but the most blatant form of discrimination occurred at the...

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