Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2018, 09:04 GMT

Chronology for Aborigines in Australia

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Aborigines in Australia, 2004, available at: [accessed 24 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
Mar 6, 1990 According to an official report, Aborigines are 20-times more likely to be held in police custody than non-Aborigines, mostly for drunkenness. In August 1988, 29% of people involved in custodial cases were Aborigines even though they make up only 1.1% (1986 census) of the adult population. The study focuses on the cases of 100 deaths of Aborigines in police custody, many of them from suicide, from 1989 to 1988.
Mar 15, 1990 Reuters reports that Aborigines are upset because the issue of Aboriginal rights is not given much attention on the federal election agenda for the upcoming March 24 federal elections. Reuters reports that only 22% of Aborigines finish high school compared with 57% of non-Aborigines. Aborigines are over 20-times more likely to be imprisoned than whites. Infant mortality among them is 4-times the national average and their life expectancy is 20 years below the national average of 76 years.
Mar 21, 1990 Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission says that police committed "an act of racist violence" when 135 officers surrounded Aboriginal homes in Sydney and arrested 8 Aborigines on minor charges. The report says that the "perceived difference of the Aboriginal community was used to legitimize an exceptional use of state force."
Apr 3, 1990 2 Aborigines, in separate incidents, are found hanged in their police cells in Rockhampton, a north Queensland coastal town. This occurs as Australia's Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, now in its third year, arrives in town to begin hearings in 3 earlier deaths. Aborigines account for 21% of the deaths in custody since 1980.
Jun 20, 1990 An Australian human rights commissioner says that Aborigines in a former asbestos-mining town are still being exposed to deadly asbestos dust due to government inaction. The commissioner says that they are being denied protection due to their race. This accusation is made several times by several sources during the period covered by this chronology.
Jul 1, 1990 Some of Australia's Aboriginal leaders meet in a remote bush camp in the Northern Territory to form an independent and provisional government. The leaders say they have no choice but to form a national state because the government has failed to fulfill its promise to guarantee Aboriginal rights. Many Aborigines in the Northern Territory who already control one-third of the state's land and earn A$30 million (US$24 million) from land right royalties, refuse to join the new government.
Oct 1, 1990 During a visit to Australia, anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela is criticized by many Aborigines for not taking a stronger stance against the treatment of Aborigines in Australia.
Oct 9, 1990 About 300 Aborigines throw rocks and bottles at police and storm into the New South Wales parliament to protest against changes to laws governing land rights. The plan had already been accepted by the Aboriginal Land Council but many Aborigines feel that the deal is a sell-out.
Oct 10, 1990 Australia's racial discrimination commissioner reports that racist violence in Australia may be on the rise and that Aborigines suffer disproportionally from racist violence.
Dec 13, 1990 Australia launches a campaign of reconciliation between Aborigines and the rest of the country's inhabitants.
Feb 4, 1991 Janice Love, an executive of the World Council of Churches (WCC) calls the treatment of Aborigines "genocidal." Love says that the living conditions of Aborigines have not improved since WCC officials last visited in 1981.
Mar 1, 1991 A study in an Australian medical journal reports that infant mortality among Aborigines has dropped from 78.8 per 1,000 live births in the mid 1970s to a rate of 25.5 in 1987. This compares with a rate of 9.1 for all other Australians.
Mar 8, 1991 About 15 Aborigines wielding frozen kangaroo tails attack police officers patrolling the outback when they try to remove an Aborigine sitting in the middle of the road in an apparent attempt to commit suicide.
Apr 5, 1991 An official inquiry finds that 8 paramilitary police who burst into the bedroom of an innocent Aborigine and shot him dead in April 1988 should be charged for the killing. To date, this has not happened.
Apr 18, 1991 Australia's first official probe into racist violence condemns police treatment of Aborigines, accusing the force of widespread involvement in violence, intimidation and harassment. This includes beatings, forced sexual favors and even encouraging Aborigines to hang themselves while in custody.
May 1, 1991 A total of 29,352 cans of beer are shipped out of a small remote Australian town after 30 to 40 drunken Aborigines riot and pelt police with stones and bottles.
May 9, 1991 Australia's probe into racist violence finds that the deaths of 99 Aborigines in police custody since 1980 were the result of social inequality and not police misconduct. Most of the deaths were suicides. Aboriginal leaders are angered over the report's lack of recommendations in relation to the prosecution of police officers. The report does, however, critique police practices. The report also cites racism and alcohol as major factors in the plight of Aborigines.
May 19, 1991 According to the Medical Journal of Australia, Aborigine suicide rates have increase from 10.1 per 100,000 in 1981 to a rate of 105.3 in 1988 in the state of South Australia. Suicide rates for the rest of Australians rose from 11.2 in 1981 to 17.4 in 1988. Other studies have shown that Aborigines with traditional backgrounds or close tribal links when young are less likely to commit suicide.
May 23 - 29, 1991 Several demonstrations including as many as 400 Aborigines in the northern state of Queensland occur in protest against new land laws. Aborigines say that the new laws do not give them enough control over their tribal lands. They later formally make a similar complaint to the UN.
Jun 5, 1991 Parliament passes a bill to establish a Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
Jun 13, 1991 Reuters reports that the death rate of Aborigines aged 20 to 29 has risen 150% in 30 years. The major causes of death are heart disease and strokes followed by accidents and violence.
Jun 18, 1991 In a controversial decision, Australia's government rejects a major mining project at Coronation Hill in the Northern Territory because it would desecrate a place where Aborigines believe an underground God sleeps. The site is believed to contain up to $2 billion worth of ores.
Sep 17, 1991 The anti-mining Ngalia Aboriginal Heritage Council files suit seeking an injunction against the Yakabindie mining project saying that sacred sites would be destroyed. The issue of control over mining in traditionally Aborigine lands and sacred sites remains important throughout the period covered by this chronology.
Oct 1, 1991 The University of Edinburgh (in Britain) hands over the largest collection of Aboriginal skeletal remains ever to be returned to Australia after a lengthy campaign by Aborigines to get them back. Thousands of Aboriginal skeletal remains are being held outside Australia, primarily in Europe and North America.
Oct 1991 Australian Aborigines travel to London to press Britain for millions of dollars in compensation for the contamination of traditional hunting grounds between 1953 and 1957 by British nuclear testing.
Oct 18, 1991 A lawyer for Aborigines blames "institutional racism" for a major rise in the number of Aborigines in New South Wales jails. The number of Aborigines in the State's jails increased 72% from 385 in 1988 to 664 in June 1991. Aborigines make up 9.8% of the state's jail population despite being less than 2% of the state's population. The disproportionate number of Aborigines in jail and the problem of crime among Aborigines remains a constant throughout the period covered by this chronology.
Oct 21, 1991 According to an Institute of Criminology report, Aborigines make up 12% of Australia's murder victims. Most are killed by other Aborigines.
Jan 27 - 28, 1992 About 50 Aborigines occupy Australia's former parliament house calling for Aboriginal self-government.
Apr 1, 1992 Sweeping plans for judicial, economic and social reforms intended to improve the lives of Aborigines are announced. The Federal government periodically enacts measures intended to improve the lives of Aborigines. While these attempts seem to be in good faith and invest considerable resources, they also seem to be relatively unsuccessful.
May 13, 1992 Australians are outraged by an amateur video shown on television showing 2 New Wales police officers at a party painted black and wearing nooses around their necks, mocking the deaths of Aborigines in police custody.
May 18, 1992 The government, in a controversial decision, decides not to build a dam at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory in order to preserve Aboriginal sacred sites.
Jun 3, 1992 In what becomes known as the Mabo ruling, after the Aboriginal elder who brought the suit, the High Court rules that Aboriginal traditional rights in the Murray Islands off Australia's northeast coast were not extinguished by European settlement. This negates the legal concept of terrus nullius which claims that Australia was deserted before European settlement and opens the legal door to major land-claims by Aborigines. The ruling states that if Aborigines can prove a continuing link with the land, their native title may not be extinguished by European settlement.
Jun 25, 1992 A parliamentary report says that a national institute to prevent the total loss of Aboriginal languages should be established. Only 10% of the 250 languages and 600 dialects estimated to have been used when Europeans arrived in Australia remain healthy.
Jul 1992 Aboriginal leaders ask the International Court of Justice to hear a series of trespassing cases stemming from the symbolic takeover of Australia's old Parliamentary House. (see January 27-28, 1992 for details.) The leaders claim that Aborigines can not legally be removed from property that has belonged to their ancestors for 40,000 years.
Aug 1992 5 Aborigine prisoners engage in a hunger strike demanding greater control over Aboriginal culture programs at the jail.
Sep 14, 1992 Aborigines accuse drivers in a charity rally of racism for breaking an official ban on visiting Ayers Rock, one of Australia's most sacred Aboriginal sites.
Oct 23, 1992 A group of Aborigines charging that Australia is a racist state which, like South Africa, oppresses its native people, launch a campaign against Sydney's bid to host the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Oct 30, 1992 According to Reuters, despite government efforts, 19 Aborigines died in police cells in 1990 and 1991. This represents a disproportionate 16.7% of the total 114 deaths in custody during this period.
Nov 12, 1992 3 prisoners in New South Wales hang themselves and 2 more try to commit suicide during the past week prompting calls for a judicial investigation.
Nov 18, 1992 A television network exposes widespread racism around Australia with embarrassing images of shopkeepers and estate agents openly discriminating against Aborigines in front of hidden cameras.
Nov 25, 1992 An Aborigine who collapses after a struggle with police in New South Wales is deliberately not given medical attention and later dies.
Dec 4, 1992 The Darwin-based Northern Land Council lodges a claim for aboriginal ownership of mineral rights to more than 500,000 sq. km. (193,000 sq. miles) of the Northern Territory. Government officials call the claim "ludicrous."
Dec 29, 1992 Aboriginal leaders lodge a land-claim on the central business district of Brisbane. Since the historic Mabo ruling (see June 3, 1992 for details) Aborigines have been lodging land-claims, many of them for heavily populated areas and areas in use by mining companies. While Aboriginal leaders are probably aware that most claims for land already in use are unlikely to succeed, this unrestricted land-claim activity continues until Aboriginal leaders reach an agreement with the government over land-claims on October 19, 1993.
Jan 1, 1993 Australian police search homes in an isolated Aboriginal community for 150,000 cans of beer looted from a store on New Year's Eve by a mob of 500 armed with axes and guns.
Feb 9, 1993 Amnesty International criticizes Australia's criminal justice system for jailing Aborigines at a rate 17 times higher than non-Aborigines.
Mar 11, 1993 Aborigines place a curse on an Australian Rules Football official after he makes comments that are widely considered racist.
Mar 23, 1993 Aborigines in eastern Australia apply tribal law and ban from communal lands 6 young men involved in a brawl between Aborigines and whites that led to the death of an innocent white bystander. Angry Australian whites are thought to be responsible for an earlier attempt to burn down the bridge between the Cherbourg Aboriginal community and the town in response to the killing.
Apr 8, 1993 Aborigines say that they want the courts to use tribal law rather than police cells after a survey finds that they are 26 times more likely to be arrested than other Australians.
May 16, 1993 A Queensland Aboriginal leader calls for a referendum to determine the opinions of Australia's indigenous people on the question of whether Australia should become a republic. He feels that Aborigines should be consulted on the issue and not be "forced to go along."
May 20, 1993 Aborigines in outback Australia have asked the Northern Territory government to ban unauthorized curses because they are disrupting their communities. Only tribal leaders may authorize a curse as a punishment for an offence against Aboriginal law.
Jun 4, 1993 According to a study, Aboriginal women are 8-times more likely to die from giving birth than non-Aboriginal women.
Jun 8, 1993 A tribe of Aborigines goes to court to claim ownership of Australia's national capital.
Jun 29, 1993 Australia accepts from Britain A$45 million (US$30 million) payment as compensation for the clean-up of former nuclear test sites in southern Australia. Aboriginal natives of the area have been demanding compensation for some time.
Jul 1, 1993 Aboriginal Affairs Minister Robert Tickner accuses Hugh Morgan, managing director of one of Australia's largest mining groups, of waging a hate campaign over the Mabo ruling (see June 3, 1992 for details) This ruling has been causing great uncertainty in Australia's mining industry due to Aboriginal claims on the mines.
Jul 28, 1993 The government moves to dampen a heated national debate over land-claims which many say is inciting racism by proposing a compromise which grants some rights to Aborigines over mining leases but overrides claims to residential and pastoral lands. The proposed compromise does not give Aborigines a veto over mining on native lands but does give them the right to negotiate and refer disputes to a new tribunal. The government can still override the tribunal's decision if it is not regarded as being in the public interest. The family of an innocent Aborigine slain by 8 paramilitary police in a raid on his house is awarded A$700,000 (US$475,000) in compensation.
Aug 5, 1993 A 3-day outback meeting by 500 Aborigines from around the country ends with rejecting last week's government proposal on land-claims issues. They demand a veto on mining on native title land and assert that native title has not been extinguished by any form of government land-grant. The negotiation process on land-claims issues continues for several months.
Aug 10, 1993 The owners of an Australian caravan park who refused to let an Aboriginal couple stay there are ordered to pay them A$20,700 (US$14,160) in damages. The problem of discrimination by private citizens against Aborigines continues throughout the period covered by this chronology.
Oct 19, 1993 The government reaches an agreement with Aborigines over land-rights. The government agrees to protect native title to land where Aborigines can show a continuous link to traditional lands. But pastoral leases granted between 1975 and December 1993 will automatically extinguish native title. The government will create tribunals to adjudicate land-claims but states would have exclusive control over economic usage of the land. Many Aborigines call the agreement historic but some extremists reject the plan for failing to give them a veto over economic development of their land. The state of Western Australia also opposes the deal and plans to set up its own laws to fight it.
Nov 7, 1993 Plain-clothes police laugh and joke as a young Aborigine lays dying in a car park near Brisbane's city jail.
Dec 22, 1993 Parliament passes the October 19 agreement on land-claims. The law will take effect January 1 but the tribunals will not be in place until mid-1994. This constitutes the first major change in land-rights for Aborigines since 1976.
Jan 20, 1994 Australia's health minister describes health standards in remote Aboriginal camps as appalling and more like those of a war-ravaged African state.
Feb 10, 1994 At the request of a tribal Aboriginal man convicted of manslaughter, an Australian judge allows to suffer a traditional punishment--being speared in both thighs, rather than going to jail.
Apr 15, 1994 A national forum of ethnic leaders hears evidence of racism in Australia, including racism against Aborigines.
May 9, 1994 The Northern Territory loses a court challenge to the federal Aboriginal land-rights laws claiming that parts of the laws fail to pay it proper compensation for the land granted to Aborigines.
Jun 9, 1994 Aborigines are outraged at a school board's plan to replace the word "invasion" with "arrival" and "settlement" when referring to British colonization of Australia in the 18th century.
Jun 27, 1994 Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner says that the government has failed to properly address the problem of Aboriginal deaths in custody.
Jun 28, 1994 According to a government report, Aborigines are the least healthy in Australia with death rates 3-times those of the population as a whole.
Jun 29, 1994 A town desperate to reduce its alcohol problem announces plans to limit alcohol sales. This angers local white drinkers but pleases Aboriginal leaders who say that alcohol is killing their peoples.
Jul 4, 1994 An Aborigine convicted of murder says that he is not subject to white man's law and should be treated as a war criminal because white Australia had waged a 200-year war against his people.
Jul 17, 1994 The public flogging of 6 Aborigines accused by their tribal elders of stealing cars has rekindled a legal debate over whether Australia's judicial system can accommodate traditional Aboriginal justice. The elders feel that western justice failed to deter the youths who regularly stole cars. Many Aborigines feel that the use of traditional punishment is part of Aboriginal self-determination.
Jul 17, 1994 The government feels that traditional punishment is an appropriate way to deal with crime among Aborigines up to a point. Western law takes precedence in violent crimes and the government generally objects to some of the more brutal tribal punishments such as the practice of spearing. The government position on this issue is probably influenced by its inability to deal with the problem of crime among Aborigines
Jul 20, 1994 The Australian Mining Industry Council says that land-claims and conservation orders have put more than a quarter of Australia off-limits to miners prompting major mining companies to explore and invest overseas. Australia's mining industry has opposed Aboriginal land-rights throughout the period covered by this chronology.
Jul 20, 1994 The state of South Australia overrules the state's High Court decision to take aboriginal law into account and free a man in a case where an Aboriginal man admitted to fatally stabbing another Aboriginal man as part of a tribal payback attack. The government feels that Australian law should take precedence in cases of violence.
Aug 19, 1994 The government gives back to Aborigines title to 23,000 sq. km. (8,800 sq. miles) of land in a remote part of central Australia.
Aug 24, 1994 Cathy Freeman, Australia's first Aboriginal winner of a Commonwealth Games gold metal is rebuked for running a victory lap draped in the Aboriginal flag.
Oct 4, 1994 About 600 Aborigines at a conference for Aborigines who had been forcibly taken from their parents under an assimilation policy are urged by Australia's Aboriginal Affairs Minister to launch a test case for compensation against the government.
Nov 16, 1994 Parliament passes the controversial Racial Hatred Bill. The bill makes incitement to racial hatred punishable by up to a year in jail.
Dec 2, 1994 Aborigines affected by British nuclear tests during the 1950s agree to a A$13.5 million (US$10.3 million) settlement from the Australian government which had already received a settlement from the British government. (See June 29, 1993 for details)
Dec 18, 1994 20 Aboriginal demonstrators protest against a ceremony commemorating the "discovery" of Australia by Captain Cook.
Feb 10, 1995 According to a report released by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Aboriginal families are 20-times more likely to live in impoverished conditions than the rest of the population and make up 22% of the country's homeless and 38% of families living in makeshift dwellings.
Feb 20, 1995 A medical study finds that Central Australia's Aborigines suffer from the world's highest rate of severe pneumonia.
Feb 21, 1995 According to Australia's first national survey of Aborigines, past racist policies have left devastating social scars. These include low levels of education; poor housing; poor health; and greater risk of arrest and imprisonment. The survey places much of the blame on the past government practice of separating mixed-race Aborigines from their native mothers. One in 10 Aborigines over the age of 24 were separated from their mothers and these Aborigines account for a disproportionate amount of those Aborigines arrested and imprisoned and of those who committed suicide.
Mar 2, 1995 According to a government report, the number of Aboriginal deaths in custody doubled in 1994 while the rate for non-Aboriginal deaths in custody remained about the same.
Mar 16, 1995 The High Court unanimously rejects a Western Australia law on Aboriginal land-rights arguing that it is racially discriminatory and conflicts with federal law. Western Australia has been fighting the 1993 federal law on Aboriginal land rights. (See October 19, 1993 for details of the law.)
Apr 11, 1995 Lawyers acting for Australia's mixed-race Aborigines sue the government over its former policy of removing mixed-race Aborigine children from their families.
Apr 12, 1995 Aborigines demand that the best-selling US book "Mutant Message Down Under" be withdrawn from sale describing it as an insult to their culture.
May 9, 1995 The Northern Land Council, an influential aboriginal group, threatens to withdraw its support for the 2000 Sydney Olympics if a senior sports official refuses to resign over a racial joke he is alleged to have told.
Jun 4, 1995 The grave of an Aboriginal leader whose long legal fight led to the landmark Mabo ruling (see June 3, 1992 for details) is defaced by swastikas and racial slurs.
Jan 12, 1996 Six Aborigines sue the Australian government for defrauding them. While they were working, deductions were made from their paychecks for the "Aborigine welfare fund." Aborigines were not allowed access to their own records for this fund, while those in charge systematically withdrew unauthorized amounts from it. Such abuse is believed to be widespread. (Deutsche Press Agentur 1/12/96)
Mar 15, 1996 Over 300 Aborigines protest the election to Parliament of Pauline Hanson, who had criticized the government for "looking after Aborigines too much," and "showering them with money," among other things. Earlier newspaper articles commented on the number of candidates from the Liberal and National Parties elected in the March Parliamentary elections despite their openly racist comments. (Deutsche Press Agentur 3/15/96 and 3/14/96)
Apr 18, 1996 An Anti-Discrimination Coalition report states that allegations of racism have increased dramatically since elections.(Agence France Presse 4/18/96)
Apr 26, 1996 The new government threatens to "reform" the Aborigine and Torres Straight Islander Commission (ATSIC), implementing "transparency" and appointing an auditor to look for signs of fraud. Aborigines respond by stating that the government had no right to change the commission without consulting them, and that they fear they will lose autonomy and rights.(Inter Press 4/26/96)
May 14, 1996 Aboriginal spokesman Charles Perkins threatens to hold Aborigine demonstrations protesting their living conditions during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, if these conditions do not improve in the intervening years. Such threats are made throughout the late 1990s. (Agence France Presse 5/14/96)
May 20, 1996 The new government, in an attempt to "streamline" property development procedures, moves to amend the 1993 Native Title Act (See August 19, 1993 for details). Such legislation would probably face an immediate legal challenge under Australia's Racial Discrimination Act, but it adds to Aboriginal fears that the Liberal-National government coalition is stripping away their autonomy. (Inter Press 5/20/96)
Jun 12, 1996 The Wik and Thayorre peoples go to Australia's high court under the 1993 Native Title Act to challenge a mining project by Comalco on leased land. They hold that indigenous peoples should not be denied access to land held under a pastoral lease, if the property remained unused during the time of the lease. (Agence France Presse 6/12/96)
Jun 18, 1996 Amnesty International reports that in the last year, 21 Aborigines died while in police custody, the highest number since the beginning of record-keeping in 1980. (Agence France Presse 6/18/96)
Jul 4, 1996 Amnesty International criticizes the Australian government as the 100th Aborigine dies in Australian prisons since 1989. (Deutsche Press Agentur, Agence France Presse 7/4/96)
Aug 19 - 20, 1996 Proposed federal budget cuts for Aboriginal and welfare programs lead to two days of protests and demonstrations at the Parliament, leaving over 60 police injured. Over 20,000 were estimated in attendance on the first day, including large numbers of Aborigines. (Deutsche Press Agentur 8/20/96)
Oct 1996 Prime Minister John Howard criticizes newly developed history textbooks on national radio, stating that some were not in good taste. The new curriculum is part of an attempt to include the history of the Aborigines in Australian history classes, and to show the negative effects of colonization on Aboriginal life. (Inter Press Service 11/1/96)
Nov 25, 1996 An Aboriginal and Torres Islander Social Justice Commission report calls the number of suicides among the Aborigines "a national disgrace," linked to Aboriginal despair and racism among police. The report notes that Aborigines are often jailed for minor offences, while whites are not, that police are often unaware of Aboriginal culture and customs, and recommends monitoring the health and mental status of Aborigines in prison to prevent suicides. Many of these recommendations, first made five years ago, have yet to be implemented. (Deutsche Press Agentur, Agence France Presse 11/25/96)
Dec 1, 1996 The Larrikia people lay claim to crown lands in the city of Darwin, including beaches, parks, and areas slated for development. Politicians dismiss the claim as "a greedy land grab." Most of the town and surrounding area would be affected.(Agence France Presse 12/1/96)
Dec 23, 1996 The High Court of Australia overturns the assumption that Aborigines have no claim to government-owned land which is leased out to farms and mining companies (known as pastoral leasing - for details see October 19, 1993. For further details on the original suit, see June 12, 1996). This leads to increased calls from the farming and mining industries for legislation to clarify the Aboriginal land claims. (Agence France Presse and Deutsche Press Agentur 12/23/96)
Dec 23, 1996 Two Aborigine children, aged 11 and 12, are sentenced to six weeks juvenile detention after spitting on political candidate Pauline Hanson. Amnesty International raises concern, noting that such detention may be in violation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. (Agence France Presse 12/22/96 and 12/23/96)
Feb 2, 1997 A U.S. government report criticizes Australia's treatment of Aborigines. (Deutsche Press Agentur, Agence France Presse 2/2/97)
Apr 1997 Pauline Hanson registers the One Nation Party; polls immediately estimate its support at about 10% of the Australian population. Hanson also sells a mail-order book, which accuses Aborigines of cannibalism and condemns economic integration with Asia and immigration, as a means of raising funds for her party. (Deutsche Press Agentur reports throughout April)
Apr 2, 1997 A report by Australia's Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare notes that Aborigine life expectancy remains 20 years shorter than that of other Australians, and that Aborigine babies tend to have lower birthrates and younger mothers, and are 2 to 4 times more likely to die at birth.(Agence France Presse 4/2/97)
Apr 2, 1997 The United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva accuses Australia of seriously disregarding the human rights of its indigenous people.(Agence France Presse 4/2/97)
Apr 28, 1997 Prime Minister John Howard introduces legislation to offer Aborigines compensation in exchange for giving up some of their claims on pastoral lease land. At this point, Aborigines have made claims to over 40 percent of Australian land. (Deutsche Press Agentur 4/28/97)
Apr 28, 1997 The Kerrupjmara people file suit in Australia's high court, claiming Australia's treatment of them over the past 200 years constitute genocide and war crimes. They are seeking a hearing in the United Nations General Assembly and the International Court of Justice to determine their legal rights, as well as monetary compensation and reparations.(Agence France Presse 4/28/97)
May 2 - 3, 1997 One Nation Party founder Pauline Hanson faces two days of demonstrations in which objects are thrown at her. Over 1000 people attend the first demonstration, several hundred the second. (Agence France Presse 5/3/97)
May 9 - 10, 1997 1000 demonstrators, many waving Aboriginal flags, protest at a speech by Pauline Hanson in Hobart, Tasmania. Another speech the following day is cancelled after 300 protestors show up.(Agence France Presse 5/10/97)
May 21, 1997 Charges against three boys accused of spitting on One Party founder Pauline Hanson in December are dropped. (Agence France Presse 5/21/97)
May 26, 1997 A 700-page report accusing the Australian government of the fifth form of Genocide as defined by the United Nations, for its policy of removing Aborigine children from their homes to be placed in the care of Europeans is finally discussed in Parliament. The report had been delivered in April, and recommends apologizing and making cash reparations to those abused by the policy, which was finally abolished in 1970. (Deutsche Press Agentur 5/26/97)
Jun 4, 1997 1500 Aborigines removed from their homes as children sue the government for reparations. Polls state that most white Australians do not believe the government should apologize for the policy. (Agence France Presse 6/4/97)
Jun 16, 1997 Catholic and Anglican churches in England take out a full-page ad in The Times of London on the eve of Prime Minister John Howard's visit to England, demanding that he make a national apology to the Aborigines for the Australian government's policy of removal. (Agence France Presse and Deutsche Press Agentur 6/16/97)
Jul 9, 1997 David Ettridge of the One Nation party berates the police for their inaction after two days of demonstrations against the party leave 3 police and 7 protestors injured. Two people were arrested, but Ettridge believes there is an organized group that exists solely to protest at any opportunity.(Agence France Presse 7/9/97)
Jul 25, 1997 The Ipswitch Anti-Racism Committee estimates that racist attacks have increased 30% in the last year. (Agence France Presse 7/25/97)
Jul 31, 1997 Australia's High Court rules that the 1918 laws and policies of the Northern Territory which removed Aboriginal children from their parents and placed them with whites were constitutionally valid, and were not a form of genocide because the original law required that such removals be done in the best interests of the children involved. (Agence France Presse 7/31/97)
Aug 14, 1997 Aboriginal activist Ken Colbung wins the right to exhume the skull of Yagan, an Aboriginal resistance leader killed in 1833. The skull had been on display in a Liverpool museum until 1964. It will be returned to Australia and buried with rest of his remains in a tribal ceremony. (Agence France Press 8/14/97, 8/15/97, and 8/29/97; Deutsche Press Agentur 8/15/97 and 8/26/97)
Dec 11, 1997 Prime Minister John Howard formally rules out a national apology to the Aborigines who were removed from their homes as children, in part because of fears that this would unleash an "avalanche of compensation claims." (Deutsche Press Agentur 11/12/97)
Dec 16, 1997 Prime Minister John Howard threatens to call new national elections after refusing to accept Senate amendments to the 10 point plan to limit Aboriginal claims to leased lands. The proposal included an allowance for the Aborigines to claim compensation for a percentage of the resources of those lost lands. Indigenous negotiators had walked out of discussions regarding the legislation in May, saying Howard had not addressed their concerns. (Deutsche Press Agentur 16/12/97)
Feb 20, 1998 An Australian court acquits tribal elder Galarrwuy Yunupingu of battery charges, on the grounds that at the time of the assault Yunupingu was enforcing tribal law. The man he had assaulted had taken a picture of an Aborigine family without his permission, and had refused to pay a fine when confronted by Yunupingu. Yunupingu then took his camera and film. Many Aboriginal people believe that taking photographs of people captures the spirit, and doing so without the proper permission could lead to the land being hurt. (Agence France Presse 2/20/98)
Mar 4, 1998 Amnesty International calls on the Australian government to formally issue a national apology for its policy of removing Aboriginal children from their homes.(Agence France Presse, Deutsche Press Agentur 3/4/98)
Apr 8, 1998 Aboriginal negotiators on the land rights bill walk out of talks after the government wins concessions on a crucial point, allowing a sunset clause for current land title claims. (Agence France Presse 4/8/98)
May 22, 1998 Australian police and law enforcement agencies make a formal apology to the Aborigines for their role in removing children from their homes in an attempt to assimilate them. There is still no formal national apology. (Agence France Presse 5/22/98)
May 28, 1998 The Aborigines threaten to close Ayers Rock and Kakadu national parks if Northern Territory government is allowed to help run them. The Aborigines own the land, which they lease to the Australians to use as parkland.(Agence France Presse 5/28/98)
Jun 15, 1998 In its first campaign, the One Nation Party wins 23 percent of the vote in the Queensland State election. (Deutsche Presse Agentur 6/15/98)
Jun 30, 1998 Rather than risk a Parliamentary election based on racism, the Senate approves a modified version of John Howard's Native Title Bill. Under the bill, Aborigines lose the right to claim state lands which have already been leased to farmers and miners, but will be allowed to claim compensation for the perceived loss of ownership. These compensation costs will be shared by the federal and state governments. (Deutsche Press Agentur 6/30/98)
Jul 6, 1998 A court in northern Australia gave five Aboriginal tribes native title rights to the seabed and sea around their homes on Croker Island. (Deutsche Press Agentur 7/6/98)
Jul 15, 1998 One Nation party founder Pauline Hanson states in a speech that she thinks Australians would never have given Aborigines the right to vote in 1967 if they had known the consequences. She is later forced to admit that she had been misinformed - Aborigines have always had the right to vote; the 1967 referendum included them in the census and allowed the government to legislate on their behalf. (Agence France Presse 7/15/98)
Aug 21, 1998 Australia blocks a United Nations resolution calling for the self-determination of peoples, out of fear that it will lead to calls for an Aboriginal state within Australia.(Agence France Presse 8/21/98)
Sep 11, 1998 One Nation party founder Pauline Hanson vows to eliminate any benefits based on skin color. This would include the closing of an indigenous advisory council and the office of multicultural and ethnic affairs, and the curbing of efforts to determine the reasons for the high rate of suicide among Aborigines.(Agence France Presse 9/11/98)
Oct 3, 1998 In national elections, the One Nation Party wins eight percent of the vote, but only one Senate seat - which had belonged to the only Asian Senator. The National Country and Liberal Parties once again form a coalition government after the election. (Inter Press 10/3/98)
Nov 22, 1998 During a political debate, One Party candidate David Oldfield claims that Aborigines practiced cannibalism. Aborigine activists consider legal action for the slur.(Agence France Presse 11/22/98)
Nov 22, 1998 Prime Minister John Howard rejects proposals for a memorial to Aborigines who died due to British efforts at colonization, saying that no war had ever existed between the two peoples. (Agence France Presse 11/22/98)
Dec 4, 1998 Aborigines protest the use of their cultural symbols to promote the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. (Agence France Presse 12/4/98)
Dec 10, 1998 The Yorta Yorta tribe occupies part of a 4,000 sq. km piece of land to which they have claimed title. The court case has dragged on since 1994. (Deutsche Presse Agentur 12/10/98)
Dec 10, 1998 Prime Minister John Howard, in an address to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, admits that Australia has had problems upholding the human rights of its indigenous peoples.(Agence France Presse 12/10/98)
Dec 21, 1998 Aborigines react with outrage to a plan to eliminate bilingual education in the Northern Territory and replace it with classes to improve English literacy. The plan would save A$3.7 million ($2.3 million US), but would further endanger the number of indigenous languages in Australia. While Australia's Aborigines originally spoke 300-350 different languages, only 80 are now actively spoken, and some estimates show that number dropping to ten or fewer in 30 - 40 years. (Agence France Presse 12/21/98)
Jan 26, 1999 The Conservative government admits it is considering closing the Aborigine "Embassy," a tent that has stood for 27 years opposite the old Parliament building. The tent was originally erected to protest of government policy, and the compound now includes two buildings covered in Aboriginal art.(Agence France Presse 1/26/99)
Feb 1999 Over the course of the month, the One Nation Party delegation to the Queensbury parliament disintegrates, as party members squabble and defect. The only One Nation Party member in the national Senate is also disqualified from office because she accepted Australian citizenship only days before declaring her candidacy for office. (Deutsche Press Agentur - various reports throughout February)
Feb 17, 1999 Protestors at the Aboriginal "embassy" spear and burn the Australian flag in an attempt to kill the evil spirit of government. Protests in the area have been ongoing for weeks, but police agree to step away from the demonstrations as long as a doused ceremonial fire is not relit.(Agence France Presse 2/17/99)
Feb 26, 1999 Two aboriginal women begin a twelve day jail sentence for trespassing on their traditional land, which was part of a national park and a proposed uranium mine site. (Deutsche Press Agentur 2/26/99)
Mar 19, 1999 The Australian government refused to accept a finding by the United Nations, issued the day before, stating that its Native Title amendments are discriminatory and in conflict with the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The report had called for the government to suspend the amendments and reopen negotiations with indigenous people regarding land rights.(Agence France Presse 3/19/99)
Apr 30, 1999 A judge allows two Aborigines to sue the government. The two who had been removed from their families as children by the Australian government. The government had asked that the charges be dismissed, claiming that too much time had passed, and that it had "rescued" the children, not stolen them. (Agence France Presse 4/30/99)
Jun 2, 1999 A variety of groups protest the establishment of Ku Klux Klan organizations in Australia, under the leadership of a member of the One Nation party. Aborigines report a series of Klan-style intimidations and attacks, and members of the Aborigine and Torres Straight Islander Commission call on the government to ban the Klan in Australia.(Agence France Presse 6/2/99)
Jul 12, 1999 Aboriginal activists take a sports complex to court after it refuses to rename one of its grandstands. The stand, named Nigger Brown after a rugby player, offends some Aborigines. (Agence France Presse 7/12/99)
Aug 26, 1999 The Australian Parliament, led by Prime Minister John Howard, expresses its regret for removing Aboriginal children from their homes as part of its policy of assimilation. Howard, however, avoids using the words "sorry" or "apology" and does not offer compensation to "the Stolen Generation." (Agence France Presse and Deutsche Press Agentur 8/26/99)
Aug 26, 1999 An Aboriginal woman and member of the "Stolen Generation" loses her suit against the government. The judge rules that the state was not negligent in this case, and that there was no common law duty of care. The woman was not truly a stolen child, he decides, because her mother did not want and could not keep her. (Agence France Presse 8/26/99)
Oct 7, 1999 The highest court in Australia ruled that indigenous people do not need licenses to hunt and fish for their traditional foods, even if they are endangered species. (Deutsche Press Agentur 10/7/99)

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