History: Changing Rights and Freedoms
The 1900s were a significant time for Indigenous Australians; Various protest movements marked a crucial step in the fight for aboriginal rights and freedoms and paved the way for further progress. The Day of Mourning, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the Freedom Rides, and the Gurindji Walk Off were all important protest movements that played a key part in gaining rights and recognition for Indigenous Australians. These movements achieved land rights, greater access to justice and unity between the Aboriginal people.
Although the heroic success that resulted from some of these protests, Aboriginals still face systematic injustice. Whilst nothing can ever erase the horrific treatment of indigenous Australians in the past, we must continue to fight for an equal society.
The Day of Mourning unfortunately was not effective in making significant change, but was however the first civil rights protest led by aboriginal people and successfully exposed the plights of Indigenous Australians, consequently inspiring a generation of activists. Organised by the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA) and the Australian Aboriginals League (AAL), the Day of Mourning occurred on 26 January 1938, on the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet; There was a march in silent protest from the town hall to the Australian hall in Elizabeth Street where they had to enter through the rear door as they weren’t allowed through the front. 100 indigenous Australians met at the hall and were given a manifesto called Aborigines Claim Citizen’s Rights that
The Day of Mourning was the first civil rights protest by aboriginal people, and whilst it may not have been
extremely successful in altering society at the time, it marked the first towards major progress and paved the way for future movements.
Even though The Aboriginal Tent Embassy has been a target for arson multiple times, it's purpose serves as an integral point for the broader Indigenous movement. The embassy was first set up on 26th of January 1972 by four Aboriginal men to attack against the McMahon Coalition Government since they refused to recognise Aboriginal land rights. These were Michael Anderson, Billy Craige, Tony Coorey and Bertie Williams. They were hoping that this movement would help them gain the legal title and mining rights to all settlements throughout Australia, the preservation of sacred sites, a spot in Parliament and compensation money for land. At exactly 1:00am, they set up a beach umbrella on the lawns of Parliament House. This movement quickly gained controversy and on July 20th of the same year, Police moved in and dismantled the embassy with force. After years of protesting between the Aboriginals and the police/government and the tent being planted in several other sites around Canberra over and over again, it did not return back to where it was originally until 1992 which was the 20th anniversary of the first protest. Although the...