Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Until the 1960s, indigenous Australians – Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders – were denied rights and access to the legal system and excluded from formal participation in the political process. They were not counted in population censuses, were not allowed to serve on juries nor give evidence in court. Mostly, the government treated indigenous people as if they didn’t exist. In 1962, indigenous people were given the right to vote in Commonwealth elections, and gradually things began to change and laws made by the states in years past were repealed or amended. However, it was not until the 1967 referendum that indigenous people were granted the right to vote and be counted in censuses. Today, even though many of the legal barriers to equality for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have been removed, it is arguable that the indigenous population still do not enjoy the same status under the law as non-indigenous Australians do in practice. They are, however, recognised lawfully by the state under civil law, criminal law, international law as well as their own indigenous customary law. Civil Law Historically, indigenous Australians had virtually no access to the legal system, and were regarded as minors by the civil law, so their legal rights were restricted. In Queensland in 1962, indigenous Australians could not enter into contracts, withdraw money from their bank accounts, start a business or make wills without official permission. In terms of their employment status under the law, Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders were not paid award wages and suffere... ... middle of paper ... ...ch lobbying and picketing that have been successful in recognising the needs of the indigenous population were the massive marches that took place when it came to demanding the government recognise the land rights of indigenous people. While land rights were really not officially won until 1992 with the Mabo vs. QLD case, the protests and lobbying gained the publics attention, and made non-indigenous Australians sit up and take notice of the situation – if they weren’t already aware of it. One of the things which made the land rights lobbying so successful was that, like when indigenous people were campaigning for their right to vote, it was not just indigenous people marching for their rights: non-indigenous Australians of all different socio-economic, racial, cultural and religious backgrounds marched with them.
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