- Parent Category: News
- Category: International Indigenous Events and News
- Published: 11 February 2008
By The Associated Press
A timeline of key dates and facts about Australias Aborigines:
1788 British settlers establish a penal colony in Sydney, leading to skirmishes between the colonialists and local Aboriginal clans. Aborigines are believed to have numbered about 750,000 at the time of settlement and to have inhabited Australia for up to 70,000 years.
1789 The first cases of smallpox, brought by the settlers, are reported among Aborigines and kill hundreds.
1791 Officials grant parcels of land around Sydney to convicts who have served their time, beginning years of dispossession of Aborigines that continues as white settlers disperse throughout Australia. Clashes between Aborigines and settlers lead to tens of thousands of deaths among Aborigines and hundreds of settler deaths.
Jan. 1, 1901 The Commonwealth of Australia is formed, but the constitution excludes Aborigines from the national census, leaving them to be considered fauna.
1910 State governments introduce policies to remove mixed-blood Aboriginal children from their families, arguing the children would be better off because the race now estimated at around 60,000 nationally was doomed to extinction.
1937 Assimilation of mixed-blood Aborigines by force if necessary is adopted as official policy at a meeting of federal and state officials, while Aborigines living a tribal life are to stay on reserves.
1967 In a landmark referendum, Australians vote overwhelmingly in favor of changing the constitution to count Aborigines in the census, effectively granting them voting rights and ending constitutional discrimination.
1970 The last laws granting authorities wide powers to take Aboriginal children away from their families are abolished, though many Aborigines say statistics show the government is still far more likely to take Aboriginal children into foster care for reasons such as abuse than white children.
1976 The federal government passes legislation granting Aboriginal ownership to large parts of the Northern Territory, kicking off a new movement to reclaim traditional lands.
1992 The highest court rules that Aborigines held a form of ownership to Australia before the settlers arrived, a landmark decision that results in legislative recognition of native title rights over some government-owned lands and years of acrimonious debate about the issue.
1997 A national inquiry says policies removing Aboriginal children from their parents caused massive trauma to 100,000 children and their families, and recommends the stolen generation be compensated. Prime Minister John Howard refuses an official apology, but hundreds of thousands of Australians attend so-called Sorry Day events.
2007 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is elected, and promises a formal apology to those Aborigines taken from their families on behalf of the government. The apology is due in Parliament on Feb. 13.
Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissions Bringing Them Home report