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Read e-book online Taking a Stand: Land Rights to Reconciliation PDF

By Robert Tickner

Informed by way of Australia's longest serving Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Taking a Stand tells the interior tale of a succession of turning issues within the heritage of black/white kin.

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Additional resources for Taking a Stand: Land Rights to Reconciliation

Example text

But there were also some political lessons to be learned by the non-Aboriginal members about the importance of Aboriginal people having control of these organisations, something that did not really happen until the late 1960s. The Aborigines Progressive Association was formed in Dubbo in 1937 with well-known Aboriginal leaders William Ferguson as secretary and Jack Patten as president (Mr Patten’s son, Cec, was someone I worked with at the Aboriginal Legal Service in the 1970s). Its objectives were to improve living conditions on reserves controlled by the Aboriginal Protection Board (APB), the granting of full citizenship rights, the reconstruction of the board so that Aboriginal people made up half its members, and the repeal of discriminatory legislation.

I was one of many Australians who were so angered by the dismissal of an elected government that I was oblivious to the fact that a landmark shift in social policy had occurred in Aboriginal affairs, not only because of the Whitlam government’s policies but also because of broader changes in society. au 36 DAGLISH STREET CURTIN act 2605 16 152 × 230 THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT 17 aspirations. This is not to suggest that discrimination was not still rampant or indigenous disadvantage entrenched, or that indigenous aspirations were not still a low priority of most Australians.

In America, the Bureau of Indian Affairs distinguishes between those American Indians who are members of a recognised tribe and possess the requisite degree of Indian ancestry; in Canada, the government makes a distinction between those Indians who are registered under the Indian Act and those who are not. The consequence has been that in both these countries there is nothing like the common bonds of solidarity in the struggle for rights that exist among Aboriginal people in Australia. I mean no cheap political point-scoring when I emphasise that, despite the best efforts of Bill Wentworth, the later years of the Coalition government under Gorton and McMahon were dismal ones in Aboriginal affairs.

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