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Aboriginal Rights Essay

928 words - 4 pages

The rights of the Australian Aborigines are an important and ongoing issue of Australia. The referendum of 1967 gave Aborigines rights that had been denied for almost 180 years, inclusion in the Australian census and the right to vote. That however, was only the beginning. Since that historic vote, many changes have occurred furthering the recognition of Aboriginal rights. The Mabo Decision including the Native Title Act in 1992/3, the Bringing Them Home report of 1997 and National Sorry Day on May 26 in 1998 are only some of these changes and all contributed in their own way to the recognition of Aboriginal rights since 1967. It is nonetheless clear that all of these changes have continued to build the bridge of understanding and acceptance between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.The Mabo Decision of 1992 and the Native Title Act of 1993 are both of high significance to the recognition of Aboriginal rights in the twentieth century. It ultimately recognised the spiritual and cultural ties that the Aborigines had with the land as well as allowing them the chance to reclaim acres of land that had been forcefully taken from them using the concept of 'terra nullius', a Latin term meaning 'the land belongs to no one'. This concept of 'terra nullius' was implemented since the beginning of British settlement however, the concept had one major flaw - the land of Australia did not belong to 'no one', it belonged to the Aborigines, who have lived here for hundreds maybe thousands of years before. The Mabo Case was first filed in 1982 to the Supreme Court of Queensland, who denied the native title. The case was then taken to the High Court of Australia, where it ruled in the 'Mabo and Others v The State of Queensland' case, by a majority of 6 to 1, in the favour of the Murray Islanders. This ruling was enforced by the Native Title Act of 1993, whereby the Aboriginal people were given the right to possess, occupy, enjoy and use particular lands that were claimed with native title. This decision and act recognised and accepted that Aborigines had spiritual and cultural ties to that land and that they are able to claim these lands. Ultimately, this decision reinforced the recognition of the fact that Aborigines were human, humans that had lived here for many years before settlement as opposed to the views held by the concept of 'terra nullius' where Aborigines were considered to be 'no one'.The 'Bringing Them Home' report was released on Tuesday 26th of May 1997. Addressing the issues involving the 'Stolen Generation', the report provided much needed insight into the treatment of the Stolen Generation. The Keating Labor government in 1995 established an inquiry into removal of Aboriginal children from their families in the past, a practice that continued until the late 1960s. The report was presented to...

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