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The Changing Role Of Indigenous People In Australia From 1960 To 1975.

929 words - 4 pages

Aborigines have played differing roles in Australia over the years, from sole inhabitants, to the subjects of Australia's attempt to create a 'White Australia' However, politically, the extreme opinionated activities which occurred from the 1960s to the 1970s label that era as one of constant change in the lifestyle of the average indigenous person of Australia. In such oppressed times, justice and equality were fought for bravely, and eventually were realized by those who deserved it the most.Continuing difficulties, and criticisms of the treatment of Aboriginal people especially in central and northern Australia, led in 1936 to demands by the States and by voluntary bodies for increased Commonwealth involvement in Aboriginal affairs. At the 1936 Premiers' Conference in Adelaide, it was agreed that while Commonwealth control might not be practical there should be regular meetings between the State and Commonwealth officers responsible for Aboriginal affairs. At the first such meeting, held in Canberra in 1937, the Commonwealth and the States agreed that the objective should be the absorption at least of 'the natives of Aboriginal origin but not of the full blood'. In a sense 'assimilation' was that aspect of the policy of protection concerned with the 'future' of Aborigines (mostly of 'mixed blood').in settled areas. In the 1950s 'assimilation' became a widely accepted goal for all Aboriginal people and was adopted as policy by the Commonwealth and by all State Governments. The policy was defined at the 1961 Native Welfare Conference of Federal and State Ministers in these terms:The policy of assimilation means that all Aborigines and part-Aborigines are expected to attain the same manner of living as other Australians and to live as members of a single Australian community, enjoying the same rights and privileges, accepting the same customs and influenced by the same beliefs as other Australians.Steps were taken to achieve this result. Expenditure on health, housing, education and training programs began to be increased in the Northern Territory and in the States. The decline in the Aboriginal population in the north and centre was halted and reversed in the 1950s, and in southern and eastern Australia the Aboriginal population was increasing rapidly. It was in the 1960s however, a concerted effort was made to review and repeal restrictive and discriminatory legislation, especially by the Commonwealth Government, and the mechanisms of 'protection' were phased out. Access to social security benefits for Aborigines came in 1960, Aborigines became entitled to vote at federal elections in 1962 and the wardship system in the Northern Territory was dismantled in 1964. State legislation prohibiting access to alcohol for Aborigines was repealed and in most jurisdictions Aborigines became entitled to full award wages. In 1967 the Constitution was amended by referendum so that Aborigines would in future be counted in the Census and to authorize the...

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