Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Essay

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Essay

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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made by the states in years past were repealed or amended.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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