Justice for Aboriginal Australians
Over the last two decades, Aboriginal Australians have tried to reclaim what was once theirs. Some of the major turning points were:
- 1976 - The Aboriginal Land Rights Act was passed, allowing Aboriginal Australians to begin staking claims on land. This turned out to be a double-edged sword, however. In order to win rights to the land, they had to prove that they were the first ones on it. To do this, they had to tell of their history. But as we saw with the Dreamtime, they consider these stories sacred and secret. So, they had to make a choice between betraying their ancestors and taking back their land.
- 1995 - The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission launched the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families, which resulted in recommendations for reparations and equal rights for Aboriginal people. At the time, the Australian government rejected all recommendations and refused to pay compensation [source: Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission].
- 1999 - The Australian Parliament released a statement stating that they regretted what happened to the Stolen Generation.
- 2006 - An Australian court granted Aboriginal Australians land rights to almost 2,300 square miles of the major city Perth.
- 2008 - The Australian government formally apologized to the Stolen Generation of children in order to bridge the gap between Aboriginal Australians and non-indigenous Australians. However, no compensation fund was set up [source: BBC News].
While all of these events helped to usher in equality for Aboriginal people, they by no means left a perfect system in place. In the next section, we'll look at how Aboriginal Australians live today.